THERE is a photo hanging in Campbell Newman’s study in Brisbane.
He’s not sure if it’s the Springsure or Gindie grain depot, but it reminds him of his time in the Central Highlands which he is eager to prove he hasn’t forgotten.
“It’s been a few years, but I want people to know I know the area pretty well,” the new LNP leader said.
Appointed leader on Monday, Mr Newman has already hit the campaign trail, educating himself on the state he hopes to govern, and with a history in the central region, he is anxious to get back to the land and learn what is needed.
“I’m really excited to be getting out of Brisbane,” he said.
“As I said to my wife when I was Lord Mayor of Brisbane, I really wish I could get out to the country.
“I have a photo, taken at either the Springsure or Gindie depot, of a grower bringing in a winter crop and I look at that photo and
think, ‘I want to get out there’.”
Angry at the direction the Bligh government has taken, Mr Newman will support veteran Gregory MP Vaughan Johnson when he visits the region, although he doesn’t know when that will be.
“I just think the local community of Gregory is so lucky to have a bloke who gets out, travels the length and breadth of the area to find the issues,” he said.
He is quick to admit there is a lot to learn about local issues, but Can-Do Newman says he will do just that.
“The biggest thing for the region is the recovery from the floods,” he said.
“But more importantly for the longer term for Emerald is the planning needed to meet growth pressures.
“Once upon a time, we used to build things like the Fairbairn Dam, but when did those things fall off the radar?”
Central Queensland’s food and fibre sector, Mr Newman said, had been severely impacted because of the State Government’s failure to build sustainable water supply infrastructure, especially experienced during the drought.
“Emerald has a lot of potential, and through supporting agribusiness, it can reach that potential,” he said.
He said he would “get back to the why” of the FIFO issue, which is threatening mining towns’ futures.
“The issue is a difficult one,” he said.
“Because it is so very expensive and extremely bureaucratic for them to invest in the local communities, they (mining companies) do these expedient things like run a workers camp that provides only the bare amenities.”
He said it was possible to “turn it around a bit”, but believed there was a role for FIFO workers in mining communities.
“I would like to see the building up of rural towns and I think good corporate citizens have a real need to buy goods and services in local communities,” he said.
Mr Newman is “more than happy” to see what can be done about an inland route from Roma through Injune, Rolleston and Emerald heading north.
“I’ve been on that road some years ago, but I’ll confess up front, I don’t know the details of the idea,” he said.
“When I talk about investment and infrastructure, it’s that sort of stuff.”
However, before he dives into regional issues, Can-Do says he must fix the state budget to secure the economic health of Queensland.
“The trouble is I don’t know what is financially possible. I could run around and make promises, but we have to cut the debt,” he says.
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