'We don't want to leave' but no jobs: Gladstone worker

WORKERS hanging around in hope Stockland will start its Kin Kora expansion could be old and grey by the time the project kicks off.

For the past 12 months written statements from Stockland have varied slightly, but the message has been the same; plans are progressing but there's no date for construction yet.

It's not what electrician Joe Young wants to hear.

The 24-year-old has struggled to find work since finishing on Curtis Island and now that his partner been made redundant, they are preparing to pack their bags and leave town.

"You can't just sit around and not make any money," Mr Young said.

"We don't want to leave, but if there's no work, you don't have much of a choice.

"It really makes you feel for the people who have been here their whole lives.

"I have been listening out for news on Stockland, or anything really.

"(But) I think I will be gone before Stockland starts."

It's been three years since the shopping centre upgrade was approved by the council, almost two years since the company announced a start date, and a year and a half since that date passed.

Other projects announced by the company in the meantime are either finished, or well underway but in Gladstone the only sign of hope is the blank spaces on the sign outside Kin Kora shopping centre itself.

Three months in a row there's been no word on the board's decision and no green light for construction crews to start mobilising at the Kin Kora Shopping centre.

Not even the offer of a $400,000 discount on infrastructure charges from the council appears to have been enough to spur Stockland into action, leaving those hoping to stay in town for work wondering if they're waiting in vain.

It's been three years since the upgrade was approved by the council, almost two years since the company announced a start date, and, a year and a half since that date has been and gone.

Stockland's $150 million expansion promised to create 660 construction jobs and add 400 long term retail positions.

It's a far cry from the 25,000 that flocked to Curtis Island throughout for the LNG boom, but it would take 660 construction workers out of the job hunting game.

This week when The Observer asked Stockland if it would be starting work in Gladstone this month, before the council's offer for a discount expired, the response was the same:

"We are continuing to plan our proposed redevelopment… but have nothing definitive to announce at this time," a spokesperson said.

Stockland doesn't always take this long to start a project.

In September 2013 it announced a $222 million expansion west of Sydney and in December construction finished.

Works have also started at Stockland GreenHills in East Maitland, New South Wales, where a $377million expansion was announced in November.

The wait goes on.

Topics:  construction employment stockland waiting workers

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