Last Monday, I left home early to make a 9.30am meeting with Mayor Jack Dempsey in Bundaberg. Things were on track until, just after Miriam Vale, I missed the turn-off to the shortcut and lost about 20 minutes.
I am good mates with Jack so he understood, and we still found time to catch up, but how is it that the back roads are quicker than sticking to the main highway?
The federal government has spent over $10 billion on the Bruce in recent years. Our state is no longer cut in two when the Yeppen floods. Yet there remain large parts of the Bruce that goats would struggle to walk. The LNP’s promise to build a four-lane Bruce Highway is the right call so that we can have a world class road linking the north and south of our state. The most important economic thing we can do is to build things that last so that our efforts deliver jobs and opportunities to our children. In Bundaberg, I met with irrigators impacted by the negligent construction of the Paradise Dam.
Most dams last centuries, this one didn’t make it to its 21st birthday. This year, the Queensland government has had to reduce the size of the dam due to safety concerns. If Labor couldn’t build this dam right, how can we trust them to build Rookwood Weir?
I travel back up the Bruce to Gladstone, this time I remember to take Rosedale Road. Known for its heavy industry, Gladstone takes pride in its care for the environment and the reef. I travel across to Quoin Island with Ron Harding and see the fantastic charitable work that Bob McCosker does to rehabilitate sick turtles. Local Central Queenslanders do more for the reef than distant bureaucrats who lecture us from afar.
That night we hear from Dr Peter Ridd, a respected scientist who lost his job because he criticised the regulations imposed on our farmers by distant officials based on shoddy research. As Dr Ridd points out, sediment from farms does not even reach 97 per cent of the reef, and the other 3 per cent are corals in inshore areas that have evolved to survive muddy water. I visit a foundry where hundreds of jobs have been lost because it is cheaper to make cast iron plugs (used to dig coal) in China. So we send the coal to China, they make the things we dig it up with, and then we send them more coal. But we can’t build a coal power station to keep manufacturing jobs here?
I travel to Emerald, where one of these so called reef killing farmers is pulling out citrus trees because there are more Australians on JobSeeker than there are those willing to pick fruit.
Up the road at Clermont the town is booming thanks to the Adani project. Last year they got so fed up with radical, green activists telling them what to do they organised a protest against Bob Brown. Thousands turned out and sent a message to the nation which helped deliver Scott Morrison an unexpected victory. But the fight continues. The next day I travel, via the May Downs Rd (another that needs upgrading), to the site of the proposed Connors River Dam. A project opposed by activist Greens. The Fitzroy Basin is the second largest in the nation after the Murray-Darling yet we only have one major dam near Emerald. We should build more.
To do that we need to recapture the spirit that saw us unite against Bob Brown and the Greens. All up I travel 1300 kilometres in a week through our wonderful Central Queensland region, which is only held up by
laws not made here. We need to stand up for the interests of Central Queensland first, build more in our opportunity rich region and leave dams, mines, farms and power stations that provide jobs and prosperity for generations to come.