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‘WE’RE LISTENING’

By Mark Beale

THE importance of jobs, development and the need to avoid red and green tape are the main issues the Queensland Opposition leadership team will take away with them from a visit to Airlie Beach this week.

State LNP leader Lawrence Springborg, his deputy John-Paul Langbroek and Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan were all in the region on Monday as part of the new leadership team’s ‘listening tour’.

Mr Springborg said this was about getting around Queensland and talking to Queenslanders about the issues concerning them.

“And it’s very appropriate that we do that so soon after an election,” he said, conceding his predecessor Campbell Newman did not come to the Whitsundays before the electorate headed to the polls.

This time however, the Whitsundays was one of the first destinations to merit a visit on a tour that started in Far North Queensland and is still heading down the coast.

The three LNP amigos started their day on Monday at the coal port of Abbot Point, listening to the concerns of locals about possible delays of nine to 12 months due to the new Labor Government’s latest dredge spoil plan.

They then moved on to Bowen where similar concerns were heard, before heading down the highway to Proserpine for meetings with agriculture industry stakeholders such as Canegrowers. By the time they arrived in Airlie Beach on Monday afternoon it was the turn of the local chamber of commerce to gain a listening ear.

For Airlie Beach Chamber of Commerce representatives Mark Beale and Jimmy Duncan, the need for international access to the Whitsunday Coast Airport and the importance of keeping development flowing were key talking points.

“Development allows jobs to grow and if you restrict development it works its way down the chain right down to the single builder who can’t get a job building a house because there’s no new blocks of land being produced because it’s been bogged down in legislation,” Mr Duncan said.

Another topic Mr Springborg raised was the current government’s portfolio system whereby tourism and education are now managed by just one minister.

“[And] that’s something which cannot work – something has to give. These are portfolios that should have their own ministers and that’s something we’re picking up some sensitivity about,” he said.

Of all the places they visited Mr Springborg said Airlie Beach stood out for its current sense of optimism.

“There’s a greater element of confidence here than we’re finding in other places,” he said.

Mr Langbroek agreed.

“It’s a blessed area, it’s got everything and that’s what I think the locals really want to see progress,” he said. Mr Costigan said he thought the visit had given the leadership team a chance to get a “warts and all appraisal of what’s happening in our part of the world – the good, the bad and the ugly across various industry sectors”. Mr Beale felt the same.

“Well done on the guys coming to see us today. It’s really important for a small town like Airlie Beach that the local chamber can come and say our concerns so we really appreciate the time they’ve spent with us,” he said.

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