Bourke, Brewarrina, Walgett unemployment rates fall, abattoir on track

Areas within the Orana region have seen their unemployment rates fall by as much as 5.2 per cent in the year to December, updated data shows.

The Bourke, Brewarrina and Walgett shires experienced some of the biggest positive turnarounds, according to the latest Department of Jobs and Small Business figures.

The data indicates Bourke’s unemployment rate fell from 9.3 per cent to 4.1 per cent in the 12-month period.

At Brewarrina the rate dropped from 9.6 per cent to 4.4 per cent.

Walgett, which was in double figures at 11.2 per cent, was sitting at 6 per cent by the December 2017 quarter.

He dubbed Dubbo a “star performer” with its 2.2 per cent rate, but acknowledged there was more to do in some centres in the region.

“Some of the ones are the more remote towns, the towns where they don’t have the industry around them, the far west towns, the Bourkes, the Wilcannias, the Menindees and places like that,” he said.

That was one reason for the federal government contributing $10 million towards the small animals abattoir at Bourke, he said.

It would provide an estimated 200 operational jobs, he said.

People have been saying to me for the past 10 years we need something like this for Bourke, and the abattoir is on track, probably to start mid-year...

Parkes MP Mark Coulton

Already there was preliminary work being done with training for local people to have them ready to start work when the plant started up mid-year, he reported.

Mr Coulton anticipated the abattoir would boost the economy of Bourke and the surrounding region.

“People have been saying to me for the past 10 years we need something like this for Bourke, and the abattoir is on track, probably to start mid-year and that will make a big difference, not only to Bourke but some of those western towns with the surrounding industries,” Mr Coulton said.

“With goats now being worth more, there’s more opportunities to farm them, and that involves yard building, fencing, running water supplies around to properties, and all of these things create work.

“So a lot of the traditional work in the western part of the state was in station work, and if those stations are making a bob or two out of exports of lamb, beef or goats, then they’re more likely to employ local people.”