Exploring key Capricornia issues.
Exploring key Capricornia issues.

CAPRICORNIA: How these people plan to win your votes

What do you believe are the key Capricornia issues?

Paul Bambrick: The major issues are jobs, services, and protecting our local environment, particularly the Great Barrier Reef. I am fighting for greater public investment in infrastructure and training to create more jobs. I want to see more funding for essential services such as health and hospitals and a greater investment in schools and education. I will also campaign for a transition away from the fossil fuels industry to renewables to combat climate change, reduce our power bills, and create clean energy jobs. I am strongly opposed to the Adani coal mine, which threatens to destroy not only our Great Barrier Reef but the 64,000 jobs it brings to our local economy.

George Birkbeck: Free market policies have led to a failure by governments to act in the best interests of Australians, cost of living is at an all-time high and every day Capricornians are struggling to make ends meet. Open up the Galilee Basin to all mine operators (not just Carmichael) by building government owned and operated rail infrastructure. Upgrade key roads throughout the region so triple road trains can access key processing and port infrastructure. Support the Fitzroy Gap Dam and the Bradfield Nation Building vision, not weirs, levies and other minor infrastructure. Energy - A clean coal power station built in Collinsville

Russell Robertson: Finding stable and secure jobs is a big challenge for families across Capricornia, especially in mining communities and the resource sector. As a miner, I've seen first-hand mine workers employed as casuals for over five years This means there aren't holidays, sick leave or fair working conditions, and it's harder to spend time with family or take much-needed down time. The more I talk with the community across Capricornia, the more I hear about health and education services either not meeting demand or not having the funding they need to provide quality health and education support. Cuts to these services have hurt our community.

Wade Rothery: Capricornia has previously thrived on cattle, coal, cane and tourism. With ever increasing electricity prices, our cane farmers are struggling to combat global prices, specifically from India where government subsidies, cheaper labour and much lower power prices have driven down market sugar prices. Our agricultural land has been dealt a blow with government interference over vegetation management acts that prevent farmers implementing land management programs. The result has been a decrease in cattle numbers and the only way to clear land for most, is to make an application for a solar farm which appear exempt from land clearing prevention laws.

Michelle Landry: The upcoming election is quite clearly a referendum on jobs. We in Central Queensland have seen booms and busts and we are primed for better things. It is vital we continue to build the job-creating infrastructure and back the industries that put food on our tables. I have always backed our mining and agriculture industries and will continue to do so. While others do their best to dodge questions about major projects, I am happy to declare that I support the development of the Galilee Basin and Adani's Carmichael mine. Eton range was a dangerous range crossing when I was first elected and we are addressing this with works well underway. We are also improving safety and delivering jobs by delivering the Walkerston bypass. Central Queenslanders have a very clear choice before them, an experienced Member with a record of delivery or others who can't be straight on what they offer.

Lindsay Sturgeon: The Capricornia electorate is very diverse in its industries and we face a lot of challenges. We need to fight for our fair share of revenue and capital project works. A lot of money is raised in this electorate and the return needs to be distributed back into our communities to revitalise our failing infrastructure. We indisputably support our resources sector and will back agriculture and manufacturing industry's to get our regions humming again. A major issue for a region is energy costs.

Meet the candidates

How will you help small businesses?

Paul Bambrick: We can help our small businesses in many ways. We need to make education more accessible through free TAFE and university so we can provide small businesses with a much more skilled and knowledgeable workforce to drive up productivity. We can also help small businesses with their rising energy costs by creating a publicly-owned energy retailer dedicated to driving down power bills. Better access to broadband by upgrading the NBN and increasing internet speeds.

George Birkbeck: End the Supermarket duopoly by introducing laws so that no one company can control more than 22 percent of Australia's grocery market - compared with the 80 percent that is currently controlled by Coles and Woolworths. Support locally owned businesses; you're not only supporting the local economy and the employment of local people. You are also directly supporting your local sporting groups and your local community in general. There are many studies that indicate that shopping locally has major economic benefits for your local community. So when you spend $100 at a local business, an estimated 60% more of your money stays in your community compared to what would have happened if you spent that $100 at a multinational company based store. Ethanol production

Russell Robertson: Under a Labor Government, 99 per cent of businesses would receive a tax cut. No business will have their tax rate increased and all businesses will be able to plan and invest with confidence and certainty. We'll also deliver tax cuts for small and medium businesses, delivering certainty to the sector in a fiscally responsible way. Labor will invest in infrastructure projects, creating local jobs and making sure locals are employed to undertake works. Stimulating our local economy must be a priority so funding flows through to small business and local commerce.

Wade Rothery: One of the greatest issues facing small business is timely payment. All too often business owners are forced to chase payment for work they've completed in good faith. Currently there is no legislation that protects business owners from late payment, forcing many of them to apply for bank overdrafts to keep their business afloat and pay employee wages. One Nation will implement legislation that will require invoices to be paid within 30 days from end-of-month.We will also legislate a fixed sum of compensation, interest and reasonable costs to overdue notices, with interest set at 8% plus the base rate of interest set by the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Michelle Landry: By backing our primary industries and by fighting for policies that help small businesses grow and create jobs. As a government we have dropped the tax rate for small businesses and we introduced the instant asset write off, which is allowing small businesses to buy new equipment and write them off in the financial year they purchase them. I am constantly reminded of how good this policy has been for local businesses when I invariably visit small businesses in the region, business owners are always keen to show me what they bought for their business.

Lindsay Sturgeon: Regional communities need strong representation and we are committed to delivering that. Policies such as a 20 per cent tax break for people living more than 200km outside the state capitals will help to drive that while delivering growth to these regions. Also we have proposed a tax reform that enables tax to be paid at the end of the tax period and not upfront to free up capital for businesses to grow.

Project Manta recently its tenth season studying manta rays at Lady Elliot Island, at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef. CONTRIBUTED

Driving growth in regional towns

Paul Bambrick: We need to drive growth by leading the way in renewable energy. We should be investing in the clean energy of the future. By phasing out coal stations, exports and legislating against new coal mines and by investing in renewable energy, we can drive down energy costs, tackle climate change and protect our natural resources like the Great Barrier Reef.

George Birkbeck: Special Economic Zone scheme to create incentives for new projects in areas with rich mineral, energy and agricultural resources. This classification would enable the government to provide special regulatory and commercial arrangements for things like regulated transport services, agricultural water allocations, energy supply, and royalties. Rural Development Bank to accelerate rural and regional development. The bank would give business in rural and regional Queensland the chance to get reduced interest rate loans to expand and improve their businesses. The major banks under service regional Queensland because they make more money in city areas. The Rural Development Bank would work under flexible arrangements where it can act as the sole finance provider or complement commercial lenders willing to provide reasonably priced finance.

Russell Robertson: Our region's economy is incredibly diverse and is driven by mining, beef cattle and tourism. If we are going to keep growing as a region we need to support infrastructure investment throughout Central Queensland. With this in mind I've secured a $1 million investment to develop a business case study into upgrading Rockhampton Airport to a Regional International Gateway, and an $800 million investment to complete the Rockhampton Ring Road. We also need to look at how we support regional towns like Sarina, Claremont and Moranbah with localised investments to expand economic capacity, such as investing in the Claremont Sale Yards. Above all we don't want to put all our eggs in one basket. That's why we have a plan for real jobs in regional Queensland which focuses on job-creating infrastructure and cracking down on dodgy labour hire and 457-style temporary visas.

Wade Rothery: Decentralisation of government departments and some of our larger companies should be flagged under 'rehoming programs' to regional hubs like Rockhampton and Mackay. However growth in any region must be organically driven or carefully managed to ensure infrastructure can cope with the increase in population to Capricornia. The last thing we want is growth like Melbourne who take an extra 2000 people a week, yet they cannot build roads, hospitals, housing, and so many other necessary infrastructure to meet the needs of the population.

Michelle Landry: Our regional towns are absolute gems and whether you are in Sarina, or Finch Hatton, Walkerston or Nebo, our region has such wonderful community spirit. To drive growth, one has to identify projects and lobby for funding while backing the industries that deliver for our community. I will always back the sugar industry and the mining sector of the Bowen Basin I also always back the mining sector of the Bowen Basin, which many communities also rely on for their local economies. Jobs in the coalfields often means money in the cash registers of our regional towns.

Lindsay Sturgeon: Our proposed 20 per cent tax break will help encourage decentralisation from the major centres providing incentive for businesses to set up locally. This will in turn help promote growth and strengthen our towns and communities.