Touring to cover our wide land of issues
LAST week I had the pleasure of taking Campbell Newman, leader of the LNP, on a tour of the Gregory electorate.
In a spiteful press release issued by the Minister for Finance, Natural Resources and the Arts, the ALP accused Campbell of “putting on his RMs” to go bush. He didn’t. And they should also remember that, in fact Campbell ran Grainco’s grain handling system across Queensland for five years. He does value regional Queensland.
We kicked off with a great presentation from Mayor Peter Maguire about the challenges facing the Central Highlands Regional Council. We then headed to Arcturus Downs, south of Emerald, so Campbell could meet with farmers affected by Bandanna Energy projects and then a public shed meeting about strategic cropping land.
About 140 people turned out from as far as Arcadia Valley.
I want to assure them they made a deep impression, as did the magnificent country we inspected as we drove on to Blackwater via the Comet River Rd.
Members of the Blackwater Community Progress Group took Campbell on a guided tour of the work camps at Blackwater, while I was able to give him an in-depth briefing on the related arguments about FIFO and DIDO.
This is an area where we must have leadership. We don’t get the option of not making a decision. No decision is a decision by default. As a former Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Campbell could see the issues very clearly.
He said publicly that he would not support 100% FIFO. His rivals have tried to paint that as being the same as insisting on zero percent FIFO. That is absolutely not what he meant. There will always be a role for FIFO and DIDO workers in the Bowen Basin, but they should be able to choose to live there too. Government does have a role to play ensuring balance.
It amazes me that a Labor government continues to ignore this.
In Emerald, Campbell met with retailers at Coles Market Plaza who told him their experiences during the flood.
We finished the day with a public question and answer session at the Emerald Town Hall.
How wonderful after such a big day to receive a hearty cheer from the people at the Irish Village after the meeting.
The next day we inspected the Emerald Saleyards with representatives of the Emerald Livestock Selling Agents. We then met with representatives of the Corridor to Coast group at Clermont so they could brief Campbell on the ludicrous situation where they must lobby government to do its job. As the Galilee Basin Coal projects develop, the government has done no planning for an infrastructure corridor, so landholders face three separate rail lines being built across prime grazing land and floodplains to the Abbot Point Terminal in Bowen.
Campbell was then able to experience the condition of the Clermont-Alpha Rd for himself accompanied by local landholder Sean Dillon.
Sean was able to explain how vital, but how inadequate, the road is.
We then visited Alpha and points west to Longreach.
I wish to thank everybody who came to meet Campbell and who helped make his visit so educational and memorable.