Candidates address questions on their priorities, including development, tourism and the future of the reef. Picture: Laura Thomas
Candidates address questions on their priorities, including development, tourism and the future of the reef. Picture: Laura Thomas

CANDIDATES RESPOND: Priority projects for COVID recovery

STATE election hopefuls have outlined projects they would throw their support behind to help the region's coronavirus recovery if they win the Whitsunday seat.

The Whitsunday Region Priorities Plan was created by the Whitsunday Recovery Taskforce and outlines key projects and programs to aid in the region's development and COVID recovery.

Tourism groups, chambers of commerce and advocacy groups worked together to identify the projects, which Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox said was the region's "blueprint for the future".

At the Chamber of Commerce election forum on Thursday, candidates were asked which project they believed was most important.

Here's what they had to say:

Paul Hilder - Legalise Cannabis Queensland

Mr Hilder said he understood what it was like to negotiate for the greater share of the state's resources for the area.

"But let's really question the underlying assumptions that (are) behind all of the things that are currently creating silos of government and private resources," he said.

"Silos of disconnected industries, silos of disconnected principles like economics, environment, social outcomes, they are all perfectly equanimous.

"My job here is to look at the list you bring to me."

Mr Hilder said of the priorities listed, his favourite was the Goorganga Plains/Hamilton Plains flood-proofing project.

"I'll tell you why: farm, hemp, manufacture, hemcrete, market the hempcrete, put it in the hemp highway."

Candidates addressed questions from the audience at the Chamber of Commerce's forum on Thursday.
Candidates addressed questions from the audience at the Chamber of Commerce's forum on Thursday.

Amanda Camm - LNP

Ms Camm said she had already made a commitment to the Bowen space project, which she believed would create jobs and investment in Bowen.

She also referenced her commitment to a mountain biking trail in Conway National Park.

"Everything in that document needs to be delivered," she said.

"It's a diverse range of projects and critical infrastructure like road infrastructure."

Ms Camm scrutinised the Labor Government for its lack of movement on key road projects, saying she was "fed up" that no work had been done at Hamilton Plains.

She also said there needed to be collaboration with all three levels of government to achieve the projects.

Emma Barrett - The Greens

Ms Barrett said she was "all for" the flood-proofing of Hamilton Plains.

"It should go without saying, it's a vital key for our community that we need to improve," she said.

She also highlighted the reef workers' restoration project, saying it would provide jobs to those who had lost them during the pandemic.

Ms Barrett also threw her support behind the JobKeeper extension saying it "broke her heart" looking at the statistics of businesses reliant on the scheme.

The food waste facility in Bowen and the space project were also among Ms Barrett's priorities.

 

 

Angie Kelly - Labor

Ms Kelly thanked the council and Chamber of Commerce for the document.

"All of the things that are on there are fantastic and it would be great to have absolutely every one of them happen," she said.

"My job is to represent the people of the Whitsunday area … so it's about talking to the people and getting feedback from people and taking the document to people.

"It's very, very important to have that consultation process."

Ms Kelly said the main focus should be jobs and referred to Labor's economic recovery plan.

However, she said she would have to study the document more closely to make an informed decision about which project she prioritised.

Deb Lawson - One Nation

Ms Lawson said the Marine Centre of Excellence was the project that stood out for her.

"The closest current training facility is in Tasmania," she said.

"Now, that is going to bring a lot of people to the Whitsundays."

Ms Lawson said she met with representatives from the Whitsunday Sailing Club to discuss funding.

She said "we can thank Pauline (Hanson)" for the project securing funding.

 

Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan during the Chamber of Commerce debate. Picture: Laura Thomas
Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan during the Chamber of Commerce debate. Picture: Laura Thomas

Jason Costigan - NQ First

Mr Costigan said he could not split his favourites between Urannah Dam and Hamilton Plains.

"They've both been talked about for a long time," he said.

In regards to Urannah Dam, Mr Costigan said he was "sick of feasibility studies".

"I'll tell this audience tonight, if I hold the balance of power after October 31, I'll direct the incoming government to stop that feasibility study and proceed to the next level.

"The time for talk is over."

Mr Costigan also referred to his commitment to the Hamilton Plains project.

He said NQ First did not support every project in the document but added he would prioritise a coal-fired power plant and a steel mill in Bowen.

 

Note: Greg Armstrong from the United Australia Party was not in attendance. Ciaron Paterson from Katter's Australia Party attended the early stages of the forum but had to leave due to prior engagements.


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