De­fence fires up work

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - RACHEL RI­LEY rachel. ri­ley@ news. com. au

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.

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