Premier plugs business and biofuels at economic forum
ECONOMIC forums are the Palaszczuk government's latest initiative to tackle unemployment in regional areas.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told 750 people at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia forum that Treasurer Curtis Pitt could not join her for her economic address as he was attending one of the forums in Rockhampton.
She announced no new plans to lower the unemployment rate when asked what she was doing to help jobless regional Queenslanders.
Ms Palaszczuk said the government was already helping through its $240 million Skilling Queenslanders for Work scheme.
The initiative is intended to upskill the unemployed, young people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, disabled people, mature-age job-seekers and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Ms Palaszczuk also said the government's 25% payroll tax rebate for employers who hire apprentices or trainees had been a success.
Ms Palaszczuk used the address in Brisbane to plug the $40 million Business Development Fund for new start-ups.
As of Tuesday businesses can apply for a minimum of $250,000 in funding to up to $2.5 million.
"We are talking about co-investing with industry on the advice of someone of businesses best minds," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"The old saying goes, 'if you build it, they will come'.
"Well, if you build the right business model, we will back you because I am confident in what Queensland has to offer."
A biofuels project aimed at boosting the industry will come under the spotlight when the premier visits Mackay on Thursday.
She will take her cabinet subcommittee to view Asahi Holdings and Queensland University of Technology's work commercialising the Japanese conglomerates' advanced sugarcane technology.
Ms Palaszczuk said the committee would discuss the burgeoning industry and identify opportunities.
"Just like mining, not only do we have the natural resources, we are developing the technology and the skills that can be sold to the rest of the world," she said.
Asahi, known for its beer, discovered a low-maintenance process that increases the yield of both sugar and ethanol without increasing the sugarcane input.
The work is being undertaken at Mackay's Racecourse Mill.
"It is imperative we diversify into emerging high-growth sectors," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"I am determined to see a biofuels industry kickstart here in Queensland.
"I've said it before and I'll say it again - a Queensland biofuels industry has the potential to be the next LNG industry in this state."
- APN NEWSDESK