Artist impression of what was proposed for inside the Smart Hub.
Artist impression of what was proposed for inside the Smart Hub. Kerri-Anne Mesner

Rocky candidates' mixed responses on economic development

WITH the state election campaign on the final stretch, The Morning Bulletin continues to put the Rockhampton candidates through their paces, testing their support on key issues according to the Rockhampton Regional Council's wish list.

According to Rockhampton Regional Council, Advance Rockhampton is the Council's Economic Development body, and the only Economic Development organisation for the Rockhampton Regional Council area.

Acting Mayor Councillor Tony Williams said the council was absolutely committed to leading the push to develop our Region through the initiatives of our Advance Rockhampton team that will focus on driving economic growth, creating local jobs and attracting private sector investment.

Rockhampton Regional Council's new Smart Hub business manager Elize Hattin.
Rockhampton Regional Council's new Smart Hub business manager Elize Hattin. Madelyn Holmes Photographics

"The Advance Rockhampton Team are focusing on key projects including the airport, defence, trade and investment, agriculture and tourism and events,” Cr Williams said.

"Whether it's implementing our Recreational Fishing Strategy as part of a push to grow tourism numbers or leading the way through our Smart Way Forward Strategy to become a hub of innovation, Advance Rockhampton will deliver the outcomes we need to become a bigger and better Rockhampton.”

With that said, Rockhampton's candidates have been asked the following question:

Do you publicly support Advance Rockhampton as the primary Economic Development Body for the Rockhampton Region?

Kate Giamarelos - Greens:

Kate Giamarelos is the Greens candidate for Rockhampton in the state election.?
Kate Giamarelos is the Greens candidate for Rockhampton in the state election. Contributed

"Advance Rockhampton covers a variety of initiatives and while we welcome the initiative, some areas require more substance, while others are a serious cause for concern,” Ms Giamarelos said.

"We support programs such as Smarthub, which opens opportunities to develop the business skills of local entrepreneurs.

"We particularly welcome support for software development and information technology, which we feel would add diversity and resilience to our regional economy.”

Ms Giamarelos said health care and social assistance was a crucial issue for our region.

"The Greens will support local governments in their endeavours, but this can only be done with real revenue raising, which we will deliver through raising royalties and making big business pay their fair share,” she said.

"The proposed spending of $15.5m of ratepayers money in the Adani FIFO deal however, is deeply flawed and dangerous.

"This level of spending would be almost unprecedented at the best of times, but is particular cause for concern considering serious questions that remain about the viability of the proposed Carmichael mine and a FIFO hub which would drain millions from the local economy to build the airstrip and over time take a far greater negative economic and social impact.”

She said the funding set aside for this deal would be better spent on the other initiatives under Advance Rockhampton or other activities in the region and there were other more sustainable options for job creation including tourism and renewable energy generation and storage.

Margaret Strelow - Independent:

Mayor Margaret Strelow talks about the Adani forum and her expression of interest for the ALP preselection of the seat of Rockhampton.
Independent candidate Margaret Strelow for the seat of Rockhampton. Chris Ison ROK111017cadani1

"As the key architect of Advance Rockhampton and the driver behind Council's Economic Development agenda I think it should be pretty obvious that I am a strong supporter of Council's initiative to control its own economic growth and direction,” Ms Strelow said.

"That said there is a lot of room for the State Government to layer in support recognising that Council has the initiative and responsibility for setting direction for its own Regional Council area.

"I think the core areas of Advance Rockhampton's agenda are basically right and I am pleased to see a greater degree of consistent engagement with the broader business community in the last few months.”

She said Advance Rockhampton had her total support as the primary Economic Development Body for the Rockhampton.

Wade Rothery - One Nation:

DIRTY TACTICS: One Nation's Rockhampton candidate Wade Rothery said there has been a concerted effort to derail his election campaign.
One Nation's Rockhampton candidate Wade Rothery with party leader Senator Pauline Hanson. Contributed

"It's a no brainer to support the endeavours of Rockhampton's Economic Development team,” Mr Rothery said.

"They should be proud of their achievements this far and I would offer my commitment to ensuring they're backed on a State Government level should I be elected.”

Mr Rothery said he's spoken with engineers, draftsman, builders and business people across Rockhampton about the future growth of our region and Queensland as a whole.

"They feel continuously bogged down by Council's and State Government's red tape and fees which are ultimately making projects in regional areas like ours cost prohibitive,” he said.

"When I hear of a motel on the outskirts of Rockhampton having to pay $1 million dollars to Main Roads for the approval of a driveway into their establishment, I can see why development has stagnated.

"I want our Economic Development division of Council to continue striving for the big projects, but let's equally focus on the goals of those businesses and residents who are already in town.”

Barry O'Rourke - Labor:

Labour preselection candidate for the seat of Rockhampton, Barry O'Rourke.
Labour candidate for the seat of Rockhampton, Barry O'Rourke. Chris Ison ROK171017cpreselectio

Labor candidate for Rockhampton Barry O'Rourke said he would always listen to the community and stakeholders in Rockhampton.

"In our community there's going to be a variety of ideas out there.

"I'll always be keen to chat to stakeholders and businesses on how we can grow Rockhampton's economy.”

Douglas Rodgers - LNP:

Douglas Rodgers
Rockhampton LNP candidate Douglas Rodgers. Contributed

LNP's candidate for Rockhampton Douglas Rodgers said the council's Advance Rockhampton didn't have a monopoly over the region and we shouldn't lose sight of the work being done by other economic development agencies.

"Whether its Capricorn Enterprise or whether it is Advance Rockhampton, it doesn't make any difference, economic development work is very important, that's why local governments pour so much money into them,” Mr Rodgers said.

"It's only there on the council list because they've started their own economic development outfit and they want to see other people backing it instead of using what could be considered a private enterprise.”

Mr Rodgers said just because local government owns an organisation didn't mean it's the only one that can do something.

"It doesn't matter if (Advance Rockhampton was) the primary economic body or not,” he said.

"There is no benefit for a local member to back one over another, it doesn't make the work that other agencies do any less valuable.”

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