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Opposition Deputy Demands More Infrastructure For Region

By Paige Miller

Infrastructure was the big talking point when Deputy Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington and Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan visited Airlie Beach this week.

The LNP figures met with representatives from Tourism Whitsundays and the Whitssunday Coast Chamber of Commerce as part of their tour of the region.

Ms Frecklington didn’t hesitate to sink the boot into the Queensland Labor Government, claiming $240 million of infrastructure spending had been cut from the Mackay and Whitsunday region.

“Those figures are sitting in the State Budget and they don’t lie,” she said.

“When you start freezing funding like that, in areas such as this, the backlog of projects builds up and up and that’s typical of what a Labor government does to regional areas.

“That’s why we already announced our Royalties to Regions program, which is a half-billion dollar infrastructure program that can go back into the regions.”

An upgrade to the Hamilton Plains road was flagged as an issue but the LNP is yet to make a firm election commitment.

“We should have had a better road long here a long time ago, there is no doubt these projects have to be addressed,” Mr Costigan said.

Deputy Premier and Infrastructure Minister Jackie Trad defended Labor’s record.

“We are proud of our record on infrastructure and will continue to deliver for the Mackay-Whitsunday region,” she said.

“This year alone we are funding the Peak Downs bridge replacements, replacement fire stations for Mackay and Proserpine, significant upgrades to the Bruce Highway and almost $10 million of school upgrades.”

Mr Costigan said he was seeking to rally a “coalition of the willing” to fight for the Whitsunday Coast airport to be declared a FIFO hub for the Carmichael Mine project.

Adani and the Queensland Government announced last year the Rockhampton and Townsville airports had been granted FIFO status.

“We aren’t even getting a slice of the cake,” Mr Costigan said.

“Given the 8000 jobs we lost in our region and so many empty homes between Mackay and Bowen, it’s a no-brainer to have FIFO hubs in Mackay and the Whitsundays.

“I’m calling on interested parties, bodies and individuals and everybody to man up because at the moment Townsville and Rockhampton are cutting our grass and as far as I’m concerned Adani and the Premier got together and cooked this up for political gain.”

While firm election commitments are yet to be revealed, Ms Frecklington said her visit was about understanding community concerns.

“What we are doing here is we are listening to the locals and listening to as many people as possible,” she said. “We have heard loud and clear some of the major issues, and when it comes to the election that’s when we will make those announcements.”

The next Queensland election is due early 2018 but is likely to be called this year.

Source: Whitsunday Times.

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