Pollies ready for action demanding better deal
FURIOUS North and Central Queenslanders sick of being ignored by the Brisbane-centric State Government have joined forces demanding their voices be heard.
It comes as the call for stronger regional leadership in the Premier's Cabinet grows, following the decimation of federal Labor at the election for misreading Queensland.
Already regional MPs from Gladstone to Townsville have united to pressure Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and her deputy Jackie Trad to resolve the Adani issue immediately.
Keppel MP Brittany Lauga called for more regional MPs in Cabinet, while Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders asked for a new portfolio to be carved out to serve local communities.
The Premier has ruled out a cabinet reshuffle to take in the regions and yesterday could not explain why the portfolio of Minister Assisting the Premier for North Queensland was taken away from Mundingburra MP Coralee O'Rourke in 2017 and never reallocated.
Ms O'Rourke is the only MP between Caboolture and Townsville that holds a cabinet position, serving as Communities, Seniors and Disability Services Minister.
High-profile former Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne played a key role in Ms Palaszczuk's Cabinet, including as Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Economic until his retirement in 2017.
Former Mundingburra MP Lindy Nelson-Carr served under Premier Peter Beattie as Environment Minister in 2006. Burdekin MP Dale Last is the LNP spokesman on North Queensland, but doesn't have an opposing Labor MP in Parliament House.
In Far North Queensland, Mulgrave MP Curtis Pitt was stripped of his Treasury portfolio after the last election and made Speaker, while Barron River MP Craig Crawford is Fire Services and Emergency Services Minister.
In Rockhampton, Mayor Margaret Strelow has announced the launch of a Queensland-wide campaign for a "major shake-up" across all levels of government to stop taking the regions for granted.
The "day of action" on Friday will unite businesses, organisations and surrounding councils to "draw a line in the sand" that the status quo will no longer be accepted.
"We want to get a message to other levels of government that we want serious jobs for the regions and we do support Adani," Cr Strelow said.
"We haven't been left behind, but simply held back. Chronic under investment in infrastructure, education, skills and jobs continues, exacerbated by a lack of political will from other levels of government to change things.
"It is our regional areas that provided immeasurable contributions to the success of the southeast corner … we won't be silenced in our demands for a fair go. It is time, once and for all, to stop taking us for granted."
In Mackay, One Nation MP for Mirani Stephen Andrew has put the State Government on notice, warning that it can "no longer pretend" it is doing anything for rural Queensland.
"It's crunch time," he said.
"Central and Northern Queensland people sent a blunt message that having a job is their priority, with the federal election result demonstrating Labor is not listening and certainly not delivering."
Katter's Australian Party state leader Robbie Katter said after the passing of the contentious vegetation management laws and reef protection bill, there was no other conclusion.
"That's a full frontal assault (of the regions)," he said.
"Someone needs to step up to the plate and demonstrate that they believe in energising industry and the economy in the state by unlocking mines and patting farmers (and workers) on the back."