Paul Antonio
Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio

August 19, 2020

Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio has been directed to contact Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk urgently.

Councillors passed the motion at Tuesday’s meeting in a bid to get businesses in the Toowoomba Coouncil area – including Yarraman and Cooyar – made eligible for State Government support under “Back to Work” initiatives.

Deputy Mayor Cr Geoff McDonald said there was an inconsistency with the program with Toowoomba Region businesses missing out “because of a stroke of a pen”.

“Employer Support Payments of up to $15,000 are available to eligible employers who hire an eligible unemployed Queenslander in regional or south-east Queensland,” Cr McDonald said.

“Apprentice and Trainee Boost payments of up to $20,000 are available to employers who hire an unemployed Queenslander as an apprentice or trainee in regional Queensland or eligible areas of South East Queensland.

“Toowoomba Region is excluded from these support programs despite other regional and south-east Queensland local governments being eligible.”

Seconding the motion, Cr Carol Taylor said the list of eligible local governments included Ipswich City, Moreton Bay and Logan City.

She said it didn’t make sense these councils were considered eligible whereas Toowoomba Regional Council wasn’t.

“It’s just not equitable. Our community deserves access to these programs to assist in the recovery from this global pandemic,” Cr Taylor said.

Inequities in the programs were highlighted by Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington in March last year when she pointed out a Yarraman butcher had been unfairly affected.

“(Bradley) Frohloff had hoped to employ a new young fellow to start as an apprentice at his butcher shop in Yarraman, but because he is based in the Toowoomba Regional Council area, he is not eligible to apply for assistance through the Back to Work program,” Mrs Frecklington said at the time.

“The Back to Work program was initially intended for regional jobseekers but the LNP successfully campaigned for it to be extended to south-east Queensland in 2017. However, in late 2018, Toowoomba was unfairly removed from the eligibility list.

“This leaves businesses such as Frohlies Meats in Yarraman unable to access the Back to Work program, even though they are in a regional town, and businesses on either side of them in Blackbutt and Nanango can access this funding support.”

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