KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter is slamming Queensland Rail's decision to relocate jobs from outback to the coast.
With Queensland Rail relocating four jobs from Charters Towers to Townsville, Mr Katter is concerned for other vacant rail positions across remote communities in North West Queensland.
QR's Head of Regional Jim Benstead said the Charters Towers roles were relocated due tothe workers commuting everyday at their own expense.
"This will enable greater flexibility and ensure their skills are retained. It does not change the level or type of work along the corridor," Mr Benstead said.
"These four positions will continue to be deployed across all areas on the Mount Isa line and 26 QR employees remain in the Charters Towers team."
KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter has called on the Premier to immediately reverse QR decision on job relocation.
Mr Katter said at least six jobs, two from Cloncurry and four from Charters Towers, had been ripped away from the North West in the State Government's latest attempt to centralise vital services.
"These rail jobs, which are just the latest in a line of hundreds to have be moved to the coast in recent decades, are absolutely vital to the sustainability of small towns," Mr Katter said.
"Last week I sat in Longreach, with other rural MPs and about 20 western mayors, and one of the biggest issues that was brought up was ongoing population decline in outback towns and the way it erodes our future.
"One of the biggest precursors to a loss of population is a lack of jobs, and yet here we have a government body deliberating removing opportunities from people and communities that need them most."
Mr Benstead said there were currently two vacant positions in Cloncurry that QR were working to fill locally.
"We are working closely with the local mayor and the council to assist in the recruitment of these positions locally," he said.
"There is also one recent vacancy each in Mount Isa and Hughenden, which QR will also be recruiting locally.
"The Mount Isa line plays a vital role supporting mineral freight exports and regional jobs in North West Queensland. QR supports more than 80 direct jobs along the Mount Isa line, which are strategically located in Townsville, Charters Towers, Hughenden, Richmond, Cloncurry and Mount Isa.
"QR is committed to employing as many people as possible from within local communities, however there are challenges in recruiting and retaining local employees in some of these smaller towns."
Mr Katter said he would not accept spin from QR, which earlier this weekend claimed the track jobs were being moved to the coast because no suitable employees could be found out west.
"Quite bluntly, this is a poor and lazy excuse from QR - have they seen the unemployment rates out here?" Mr Katter said.
"The Queensland Government, which still owns QR, can find teachers to teach and police officers to police even in the most remote parts of the state.
"So to claim that they can't find a couple of rail workers to live in Cloncurry or Charters Towers, that are both well-established towns, is rubbish and I'm not accepting it.
"My only comment would be 'try harder' - offer incentives or be creative, but whatever you do please don't rip away our jobs."
Mr Benstead said QR's commitment to the Mount Isa line was highlighted by the announcement of a $6 million upgrade of the line, "bolstering flood resilience on the critical freight route and supporting 30 jobs on this program as the region bounces back from COVID-19."
"About 10 workers from three regional Queensland businesses - Morton's Earthmoving, Townsville Earthmoving and Schwartz Excavations - will be involved in the project," he said.
"About two thirds of the workers will stay in Julia Creek, while the rest will be accommodated in Richmond, and all the materials for the project will be sourced locally - providing a much-needed injection for the community."
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