Canavan looks forward to 2020
I AM a pretty lucky guy, I have a loving and supportive family, get to do a job I love, and I live in the best part of the best country in the world, here in Central Queensland.
People are genuine here, they are real. They put in the hard work for what matters most and they keep me honest, grounded and with a solid perspective about how I should go about supporting them in their lives as a senior representative in the Federal Government.
Central Queensland is a region brimming with opportunity. We live in the second largest water catchment (after the Murray-Darling) in the country. We have enormous energy and mineral wealth and we have a beautiful environment, along the Capricorn Coast and National Parks inland.
With all of these natural advantages it has perplexed me why Central Queensland has not kicked along like it should have. At Federation in 1901, Rockhampton was the second biggest town in Queensland - today it is the eighth.
One reason for this relative decline is because we have not attracted the same amount of government investment as other areas. For much of the past 120 years, the Labor Party has taken this area for granted. Perhaps they will stop doing that after last year’s drubbing, but Anthony Albanese’s ongoing refusal to support Adani doesn’t give us much reason for hope.
Regardless though, thanks to the efforts of Michelle Landry, Ken O’Dowd and others, the new decade, the 2020s, is set to be Central Queensland’s. Over the next few years, $3 billion of government investment is earmarked for the region, which will provide confidence for others to invest in our long-term future. I will be fighting for even more over the years to come to make the 2020s the time that Central Queensland reaches its potential.
The biggest infrastructure project in regional Queensland, the Rockhampton Ring Road, will begin in the next couple of years. This project will enhance our liveability and our economic productivity. The new road will hug Rockhampton, it will create more ways of getting in to Rocky, not a way around it. The road will save people more than 20 traffic lights and will connect Parkhurst, Gracemere and the Capricorn Coast with the airport and the university.
It will also be a boon for our industry. Currently to get large mining equipment into Parkhurst, traffic lights and power poles have to be removed and things can only be done in the early hours of the morning. This all costs thousands of dollars for each movement. The new road will mean direct access for our industry in Parkhurst, for the first time putting it on a level playing field with Mackay for mining business.
Mackay has made itself a mining hub thanks to its road access. As the Bowen and Galilee Basins expand we have the potential to expand Rocky’s business opportunities too.
The Rockhampton Ring Road is just one of many road projects in our region happening over the next few years. The Gracemere-Rockhampton expansion is underway, and it will soon be joined by duplication in sections from Rockhampton to Yeppoon and the Stanage Bay Road upgrade. Our beef industry will also benefit from upgrades to the Clermont to Alpha road, the Springsure to Tambo road and widening of the Capricorn Highway.
All up, this pipeline of projects will offer consistent job opportunities for those in our construction industry.
A massive $1 billion expansion is already underway at Shoalwater Bay. We are prioritising contracts with local businesses meaning much of this funding is spreading through our economy. The expanded military base will also lead to more visits from overseas forces that spend money in our town and support CQ jobs.
This year should see the contract finally awarded for the Rookwood Weir. This is a project that Michelle, Ken and I have been fighting for over the last decade. While we are disappointed that the state government has decided to downsize the project, we just want to see work start. Perhaps a change of State Government later in the year can return the project to its original size.
Rookwood Weir will secure our water supply. Regardless of who is right and wrong about the current state of the Eden Bann Weir, the State Government’s own reports show Rookwood Weir is critical to the region’s water security.
Rookwood will also kickstart more agriculture in our region. It will be just the second major water storage on the Fitzroy River and 2000 jobs are set to be created from the economic activity it spurs. More agriculture will support our cattle industry, which in turn will support the business of our meatworks.
On the Capricorn Coast, we are investing in a new convention centre at the Keppel Bay Sailing Club. This will bring back major conventions to the Capricorn Coast, which we have lost since the closure of the Iwasaki Resort.
At CQUniversity we are funding the establishment of a Mining and Manufacturing School. CQUniversity already has great engineering and mining courses but expanding its reach will be a boon. It is also a great way to promote both our mining wealth and how that wealth creates manufacturing opportunities, for example, in Gladstone’s aluminium and LNG industries. To help shore up the baseload power that supports these industries, I’ve been working to progress a coal-fired power station at Collinsville.
Finally, the Adani project is rolling along. One reason the 2020s will be our decade is because last year Central Queensland stood up at the Federal election and changed the nation. Many southerners were surprised about the election results here. But they just didn’t understand how passionate we are about creating opportunities for our children with projects like Adani.
Adani has now established a Rocky office creating a diverse range of jobs here. And it is the first mine in the Galilee Basin, the first coal basin opened in Australia for 50 years. More opportunities could come along soon. The Liberal National Government stood up for Central Queensland last year because we want a community that lets people make an honest living, support their family and create more opportunities for their children. That’s what we were doing and ultimately that’s what Central Queenslanders voted for.
We of course have our challenges: floods, droughts, fires and the ups and downs of commodity markets. But along with those challenges that test people, families and communities, there are great opportunities in Central Queensland to work on and make the best from.
The next decade is an exciting one for Central Queensland with so much to do and focus on. I can’t wait to get stuck in and keep fighting for our great region.