Dear Mr Treasurer, where's our cash?
TREASURER Josh Frydenberg acknowledged the need to manage population growth, but failed to deliver cash for major projects in Ipswich.
The population will double in the region, to 553,000 by 2030.
Australia's leading demographer Bernard Salt has demanded Ipswich receive capital investment for major infrastructure projects and better service delivery to stay ahead of this growth, which is predicted to be among the nation's highest.
"Minister, we need schools, we need aged care facilities, we need hospitals, we need university training facilities, we need assistance right across the board," he said.
"Everything needs to be upped in Ipswich."
Despite the call, Ipswich has missed out on cash for big-ticket items.
Only $50 million for works on the Ipswich Motorway and part of $320 million for upgrades of the Warrego Highway were provided in the budget.
A further $60 million will fund work on the Ipswich to Toowoomba corridor.
The Treasurer acknowledged the challenge facing the nation and the need to provide investment.
"The Coalition is boosting our infrastructure spending to $100 billion over the decade," he said.
"Cranes, hard hats and heavy machinery will be seen across the country as we build Australia for current and future generations.
"We will deliver new infrastructure projects to ease congestion in our cities, to unlock the potential of our regions (and) to better manage population growth."
Rather than identifying single projects for cash, the Government has funnelled more money into competitive infrastructure programs.
The Government has committed $272.2 million over four years to the Regional Growth Fund.
Half the total cost of a project will be matched by the Federal Government under the fund.
An additional $200 million will be allocated towards a fourth round of the Building Better Regions Fund.
The program funds investment-ready infrastructure projects that will create jobs and drive economic growth.
Ipswich's CBD and eastern areas are excluded from the fund, but the high-growth Ripley Valley is included.
Wild-swinging economy shifts to skills-based careers
IPSWICH is shifting to a knowledge-based economy and job seekers must skill-up to keep pushing down the region's unemployment rate, Bernard Salt believes.
The region's 7.9 per cent unemployment rate is well above the Australian rate of 5.8 per cent.
Only on four occasions since December 1999 has Ipswich's unemployment rate been lower than the national.
"The Ipswich region swings wildly around the Australian rate," Mr Salt said.
"A good time was December 2004 to April 2012 when our unemployment rate has been at the Australian average."
Mr Salt said the jobs market was changing to the disadvantage of Ipswich.
"I expect the economy is shifting and the economy is shifting more and more towards knowledge work," he said.
"You could argue Ipswich might be being left behind because it's not producing the professional services still in the labour market that other areas are."
Mr Salt said Ipswich should set a goal to double the number of students being trained locally as accountants and information technology professionals by 2030.
He said the region's residents had to acquire professional skills for the jobs of the future.