LIBERAL National Party (LNP) leader-in-waiting Campbell Newman has promised a strong regional focus should he become the state’s next premier, pledging a statewide infrastructure plan with a strong emphasis on improving the Bruce Highway.
The current Brisbane Lord Mayor labelled claims, in particular those from recently retired State Minister Robert Schwarten, that he was not in touch with regional Queenslanders as “nonsense” when he spoke to APN today.
“I know Queensland and there are few regional centres I haven’t been to,” Mr Newman said.
Mr Newman caused a stir last week when he announced he would quit his position of seven years to become the next LNP leader to take on Premier Anna Bligh at the next election.
When asked what the main issues facing regional Queensland were, the one-time army man cited agriculture, mining and infrastructure as his biggest concerns.
"Government infrastructural support is essential if the state’s agricultural sector is going to survive," he said.
“We’re in danger in some locations of not being able to produce food. For example, we have a salad bowl in the southeast of the state, but it’s lacking a reliable water source and that should be dealt with.”
Mr Newman said he would work fast to stop flooding along the Bruce Highway at various locations from Cairns to Brisbane as part of a proposed statewide infrastructure plan.
“There are far too many places along this tourist and commercial artery that are prone to flooding, even putting aside the recent big wet.
“If elected we’re going to have a clear infrastructure plan for the whole state, in particular the Bruce Highway. I’m also concerned with the highway west of Dalby. It is a deathtrap.”
Investing in rail and port projects to transport coal was another key issue, he said.
“We can’t get our coal out,” he said. “We need to invest in rail and ports. There’s a huge demand in raw material from China ... and the government needs to get out of the way and get these projects going.
“We also need to do this to get the jobs and we need more incentives to ensure that local towns are enhanced and we don’t see as much fly-in, fly-out work.”
Before he can aim for the state's top job, Mr Newman needs to win pre-selection for the Labor-held seat of Ashgrove in Brisbane on April 3. He said he would complete a full-term regardless of the outcome of the state election.
“The moment I have got Ashgrove I will walk out, resign on the spot as Lord Mayor and, endorsed by the party, get on the road immediately.”
From there, Mr Newman said he would be talking to local members, candidates and community groups from every electorate, but could not confirm any dates or locations at this stage.
“For now I am still Lord Mayor and people are quite mindful of that. I am not campaigning on ratepayers time.
“For every electorate I will be talking about two main things. Number one, what is the plan we need for their electorate?
“And number two, what is their view on the big picture, that is the statewide issues they want to see implemented.”
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