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Whitsundays enters election mode

By Mark Beale

WHITSUNDAY residents will be off to the polls on Saturday, January 31, thanks to a snap decision by Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, who called the election on Tuesday.

Three candidates are already poised to contest the State Government seat of Whitsunday, which spreads from the northern suburbs of Mackay in the south to the communities around Cape Gloucester in the north. Current Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan will be standing for the Liberal National Party (LNP), while former Jan Jarratt staffer Bronwyn Taha will represent the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and Jubilee Pocket resident Dan Van Blarcom will stand as an Independent.

Former Greens candidate Jonathon Dykyj, who has previously campaigned on state and federal levels for the Greens, said he wouldn’t be contesting the seat. Mr Dykyj said the Greens would be running a candidate and that person was expected to be decided at a meeting last night.

It is not yet known whether Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) or the Palmer United Party (PUP), will be contesting the seat.

Current Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan said this election would give the people of the Whitsundays a very clear choice.

“I’ll stand by my record in rejuvenating our tourism industry, so crucial to Airlie Beach. On top of that we’ve boosted agriculture, put extra police on the beat, introduced a Safe Night Precinct for Airlie, fixed up our local schools, doubled our capacity at the Proserpine Hospital, delivered a better and safer Bruce Highway and on it goes,” he said, speaking of his government’s achievements in its near three-year term.

“More work needs to be done but given the monster debt we inherited from Labor we’ve made a fair start.”

ALP candidate Bronwyn Taha strongly disagrees with this saying the people of the Whitsundays deserve better than the last three years. Ms Taha has been endorsed by her party since April 2013 and says this has given her ample time to listen to the people of the region and gain a grasp of their concerns.

“And on January 31, it’ll be their chance to pass judgement on the Newman Government’s broken promises,” she said.

Independent candidate Dan Van Blarcom said calling the election so soon after New Year caught everyone on the hop.

“But I’m ready to go,” he said.

“And my first plan is to make sure that people get on the electoral roll – a lot of people are probably still on holidays and don’t even know there’s an election.

“These guys (the LNP) reckon if they catch everybody asleep they’d probably have a better chance – and things weren’t going to go any better for them so they chose to go now.” While Mr Costigan has yet to comment on his Independent opponent, he had plenty to say about the ALP candidate, warning the people of the electorate that their alternative to him was “someone who used to work for the former Labor MP for Whitsunday, who presided over the demise of the tourism sector in her own backyard”.

“That alone should scare the living daylights out of anyone who wants to see our region prosper,” he said.

Ms Taha sees things differently.

“As for Jason Costigan, our member, all we’ve seen is him go along and cut ribbons to infrastructure that the Labor Government funded, like the Proserpine Community Centre,” she said.

“Jason Costigan represents Campbell Newman and Brisbane. I will represent the people of the Whitsundays.”

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