Help keep them alive

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

IT IS dif­fi­cult to over­state the im­por­tance of the Cen­sus and the role it plays in in­form­ing gov­ern­ment pol­icy.

The five- yearly snap­shot of life in Aus­tralia is a great in­di­ca­tor of how our na­tion is de­vel­op­ing, with econ­o­mists de­scrib­ing it as their Christ­mas morn­ing.

For Townsville, the 2016 Cen­sus shows life is not im­prov­ing for many of our city’s low­er­in­come earn­ers.

Al­most 19 per cent of our city’s house­holds draw in less than $ 650 a week, a fig­ure that hasn’t changed in five years.

It is a re­flec­tion of our sta­tis­ti­cally young pop­u­la­tion but also one of our near- record unem­ploy­ment, par­tic­u­larly high youth unem­ploy­ment and the sad mod­ern con­cern of un­der­em­ploy­ment, which is peo­ple who are not work­ing the min­i­mum 40 hours a week.

Some are also choos­ing not to seek full­time em­ploy­ment.

The re­port high­lights the need for ur­gent ac­tion to ad­dress unem­ploy­ment and longterm wel­fare de­pen­dence in Townsville.

Eco­nomic stim­u­lus has slowly be­gun to ramp up for our re­gion but there is a long way still to go.

The plat­form for growth in North Queens­land is and has al­ways been ma­jor in­dus­trial ac­tiv­ity, which cre­ates jobs, but the key driver of in­dus­trial ac­tiv­ity is con­fi­dence.

This is why the cur­rent state of Queens­land’s power sit­u­a­tion is so alarm­ing for the North’s com­mu­nity and busi­ness lead­ers.

Sun Met­als, which is Queens­land’s sec­ond­largest con­sumer of power and a ma­jor Townsville em­ployer, has seen its power bill sky­rocket to $ 70 mil­lion a year.

Many much smaller busi­nesses are at break­ing point after suc­ces­sive hikes in elec­tric­ity pric­ing and these con­di­tions are af­fect­ing their abil­ity to grow.

Rat­tled con­fi­dence forces com­pa­nies to put ex­pan­sion plans on hold and that sti­fles the prospects of our em­ploy­ment woes im­prov­ing.

It is great that af­ford­able baseload power gen­er­a­tion is now a national pri­or­ity.

Gov­ern­ments of all per­sua­sions must not be afraid to choose the best and most timely so­lu­tion that will bring down power prices as a mat­ter of ur­gency.

Coal- fired baseload power, as much as it is howled down by pro­gres­sives, needs to be con­sid­ered along with re­new­able al­ter­na­tives.

Our gov­ern­ments must find the courage to con­sider what may seem to be un­palat­able so­lu­tions to what has fast be­come one of the big­gest crises to face busi­ness in this coun­try. EAST Africa is in the mid­dle of a food cri­sis. More than six mil­lion South Su­danese peo­ple are suf­fer­ing se­vere food short­ages. Around 20 mil­lion peo­ple in Eastern Africa are go­ing hun­gry right now.

In Fe­bru­ary, South Su­dan was of­fi­cially de­clared as in famine, which means four out of 10,000 chil­dren were dy­ing ev­ery day. The cri­sis is not over, as other ar­eas in the re­gion slip dan­ger­ously closer to famine ev­ery day.

Yet a new Plan In­ter­na­tional Aus­tralia re­port ex­am­in­ing at­ti­tudes ex­pressed on so­cial me­dia re­veals a lot of Aus­tralians are cyn­i­cal of this cri­sis. In some ways, it isn’t sur­pris­ing be­cause it’s dif­fi­cult to fathom the horror of a famine un­til you ac­tu­ally see it, but as a ma­jor aid agency re­spond­ing to thou­sands in need right now – we feel com­pelled to cor­rect the record.

One of the most com­mon things we hear is that over­pop­u­la­tion is driv­ing the hunger cri­sis. We know this sim­ply isn’t true. Con­flict is driv­ing farm­ers from their land, leav­ing no one to pro­duce food. The con­flict is so in­tense, South Su­dan now has the fastest grow­ing num­ber of refugees in the world, even more than Syria.

Some peo­ple feel that famine is a per­pet­ual re­al­ity in Africa – that’s just how it is. It isn’t. Many African coun­tries are thriv­ing. It’s worth re­mem­ber­ing un­til this year, the en­tire world was famine- free for six years.

Many feel that do­nat­ing to agen­cies re­spond­ing to the hunger cri­sis is in­ef­fec­tive be­cause the money doesn’t make it to those who need it most. Let me as­sure you that it ab­so­lutely does. With­out do­na­tions, we sim­ply can­not feed, clothe, pro­tect and ed­u­cate thou­sands of chil­dren who’ve done noth­ing to de­serve this fate.

To help the peo­ple of South Su­dan, visit www. plan. org. au/ give/ ap­peals/ south- su­dan- famine or call 13 75 26. IAN WISHART, CEO, Plan In­ter­na­tional Aus­tralia. For I have come to call sin­ners, not those who think they are al­ready good enough. Matthew 9: 13b

VIC­TIM: Dawele, 14, who had to leave her home in Ethiopia when the ef­fects of the drought be­came too se­vere.

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