Defence fires up work
DEFENCE has overtaken health and education as the city’s largest employment industry.
The defence industry employs 5489 people or 6.3 per cent of the total number of workers aged over 15 in the Townsville local government area, according to the latest 2016 Census data.
Other major industries of employment behind defence included hospitals ( 5.8 per cent), primary education ( 2.7 per cent), supermarket and grocery stores ( 2.6 per cent) and takeaway food services ( 2.5 per cent).
By contrast, defence ranked third behind hospitals and schools education in the 2011 Census, employing 4328 peo- ple or 5 per cent of the total number of employed people in the Townsville area.
Townsville Enterprise policy and investment director Michael McMillan said the increase in defence jobs was a sign of the Federal Government’s commitment to a longterm procurement strategy in North Queensland.
He said the industry was the “lifeblood” of the region with the almost 5500 direct employment opportunities lead- ing to thousands more indirect jobs.
“These new figures support that defence is one of our major industries if not the major pillar in regards to our economy and that will slowly but surely increase with the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with Singapore,” Mr McMillan said.
“We’ve seen an announcement by state Labor with a focus on the North Queensland defence sector, which we are grateful for, but likewise we would like to see bipartisan support.”
The Palaszczuk Government last week committed, if re- elected, to making a multimillion- dollar bid for Queensland to host a new $ 50 million Defence Cooperative Research Centre for Trusted Autonomous Systems – a facility which will investigate technology such as drones, unmanned vehicles and robotics.
It also committed to establishing a dedicated agency, Defence Jobs Queensland, to oversee the creation of defence jobs, supported by an advisory board.
JCU’s College of Business associate professor Riccardo Welters is doing a study into the socio- economic benefits of the defence industry in Townsville, with the latest Census to play a key role in the data modelling. The study is due for release early next year.