National survey reveals Ipswich has competitive edge
IPSWICH and Brisbane have topped a list of the most competitive regions in Queensland in the first Regional Australia Institute competitiveness index.
But the index that ranked Australia's 560 local government areas and 55 Regional Development Australia regions also shows Ipswich's increasing dependence on welfare.
The data spans themes such as human capital, economic fundamentals, technological readiness and labour market efficiency.
While Ipswich ranked well in most areas, its primary and high school performance, unemployment and welfare dependence dragged it down.
Preparing to bring down his 10th budget this morning, Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale was characteristically upbeat about the report.
"We've got better figures than those; we know the city's strengths and weaknesses and what we need to work on," Cr Pisasale said. "With education we've got some of the best schools in the country.
"When I first got elected, there were no universities, we had the highest crime figures and the highest unemployment rate; those figures have turned around."
Federal MP Shayne Neumann blamed the shortfalls in education, employment and reliance on handouts on the State Government.
"The unemployment rate has been driven up dramatically in the local area by Campbell Newman's cuts to jobs, funding and services," Mr Neumann said.
"As the Federal Government has invested in our regions, the State Government has disinvested in Ipswich, resulting in massive job losses.
"We're lagging behind in education because we need the National Plan for School Improvement to be passed. Every school in our region would be improved under that, but Campbell Newman and the LNP are standing in the way of that."
State MP Ian Berry said the school education rankings were a concern but added: "I don't think you can put it on our government for bringing in those results; not in 15 months.
"I've read Gonski and it's really a funding model so if he (Mr Neumann) is saying it's all about Gonski then I'd reject that," he said.
However, he agreed with Mr Neumann that Ipswich's high welfare dependency was due to being a low socio-economic area with easy access to social services.
"Overall we're quite good," Mr Berry said of the competitiveness index.
"We can have an employment population here that travels to Brisbane to work and as Ipswich grows we'll have our own infrastructure here that will cause jobs to stay here."
WHERE WE STAND
- Primary school performance: 437.
- Broadband connections: 123.
- Access to tertiary education services: 150.
- Access to hospital services: 199.
- Welfare dependence: 529.