There are a lot of great things going on in Central Queensland right now. The concrete at Rookwood weir is being poured and when finished it will help double agricultural production in the Fitzroy. The first coal from the Adani mine is about to be exported at a time when our coal has never been in stronger demand. And, the Rockhampton Ring Road project will start soon, the biggest infrastructure project in regional Queensland.
These projects are in part thanks to the years of strong advocacy from myself, Michelle Landry, Ken O'Dowd and other CQ politicians. We have worked non stop to defend our agricultural and mining industries from unjust attack. We won these debates and the jobs that are flowing from these projects are the spoils of victory.
There remains some unfinished business for us, however. For years we have all been trying to find a solution for Great Keppel Island. The resort shut 13 years ago and it has been a frustrating wait ever since. Keppel is a great place to visit, the Hideaway does a great job at providing short term accommodation and just a great place to have lunch while you enjoy the view to the reef.
Yet without a resort the potential of the island remains unfulfilled. There is nowhere to moor a boat, and the weed infested airport is a sad reminder of the long lost days when daily flights from Brisbane would arrive with tourists.
Since then there has been a number of false starts. Tower Holdings fought hard to get a boutique gaming licence for Great Keppel Island - seeing that as key to their business case. Instead, the Queensland Government issued regional gaming licences to the Gold Coast and Cairns - neither of these proposed casinos are going ahead.
More recently, local Queensland property developers, Rob and Leigh McCready, put forward scaled back plans to proceed with a staged development which focused on providing more residential style accommodation first. I thought it made sense given the post COVID demand for housing outside of the capital cities. Once again the Queensland Government said no, this time apparently due to the developers not having the financial capability.
It is unlikely that the Queensland Government will be able to rest back on that excuse if Australia's richest woman proceeds with the purchase. This is the best hope we have had to kickstart tourism on the Capricorn Coast for 15 years.
Now we need to work together from all political parties and all levels of government to make this happen. Attracting investment to an island is difficult. It is always a risky investment given your capital is literally stranded on an island if things do not work out.
Our job as Governments is to reduce the risk to as low as possible for an investor so that we can bring jobs to our region. We are so lucky to live in one of most beautiful spots in the world. I would love for more Australians to have the opportunity to experience the wonder of the Great Barrier Reef in our region. That will then create more jobs and business opportunities for all of us.
Let's not look this gift horse in the mouth.