Adjournment Debate – Dyslexia Awareness and Pacific Tug

Wednesday, 18 October 2023

Mr PITT: This month is Dyslexia Awareness Month, and 11-year-old George Rowland from Hervey Bay wrote to me recently about the fact that it is Dyslexia Awareness Month, which is held right through October.

George was diagnosed with dyslexia and dysgraphia when he was eight years old, and he has been raising awareness within his school and the wider community. For the past two years he has written to the Fraser Coast Mayor to ask him to light up the Esplanade in Hervey Bay and City Hall in Maryborough in red for Dyslexia Awareness Month, which the council has done.

As a result of his advocacy, every teacher at George’s school, St James Lutheran College, is completing training provided by charity organisation Made By Dyslexia to understand dyslexia better.

George is in year 6, and he has written to every principal in Hervey Bay and in Maryborough, which is in the electorate of Wide Bay, the electorate of my colleague the member for Wide Bay, Llew O’Brien, asking them to also consider their teachers undertake the same training.

George, congratulations on your raising awareness about dyslexia. We will give you the double thumbs up—great job, George.

On a different matter, just over two weeks ago a very important project in my electorate of Hinkler was officially opened. I want to congratulate Pacific Tug and the Peters family on getting stage 1 of this very economically important project completed and officially opened. It was a surprise to me, I have to say, because guess who showed up to open it? The Treasurer! The Treasurer showed up for the opening. I don’t know if he brought a plaque, but he brought a RAAF plane when showed up with the support of the RAAF, as he’s entitled to do. But he didn’t bring an announcement. He brought no announcements whatsoever—no funding, no money, no extras. He may have brought his golf clubs, I don’t know. I have invited the Deputy Prime Minister to bring his golf clubs to town, but he hasn’t done that. This is a long-running project that has been difficult to get to completion. But it is done, and stage 1 of the Pacific Marine Base at the Port of Bundaberg is a gamechanger for the region. I
expect and hope—and this is the reason we as a coalition government invested in it—that it will be a catalyst for more investment in what is an underutilised river port in Bundaberg.

The funding for the project came from our Building Better Regions Fund, which has now been scrapped, incidentally, by the Albanese government. It was first announced in August 2017, so you can imagine my surprise to have the Treasurer turn up for a project that we announced and funded and was predominantly built under our governance. That being said, the marine base will be a hub where maintenance can be carried out on vessels, and it will provide a cargo barge facility that’s suitable for intrastate and Pacific Island trade—I think that is a really
important point. The ability to do maintenance and delivery for the barge fleet into the Pacific is an important part of what Australia and the Pacific do to keep people fed and provided with equipment. The base includes a hard stand to support heavy-industry activities, a roll-on, roll-off facility and a commercial vessel wharf for the temporary berth of vessels at the site. To give you an idea of just how large and important this facility is, when it was being constructed it had a 600-tonne derrick crane on top of it. Capacity of 600 tonnes is quite impressive in a river port in regional Queensland.

Unfortunately, there were a number of delays to the project. I did have to seek a finding extension in October 2019, mainly because we had to wait two years for the Queensland state Labor government to give approvals for a port that they own and for which they have absolute oversight as only they need to provide those approvals. Similar projects in Brisbane—almost exactly the same—were approved in months. But for Bundaberg and the people of Bundaberg, for the region and for Hinkler, it took two years. Then the COVID pandemic hit, and once again we went to bat for Pacific Tug to advocate for extensions to the funding agreement, which were secured and allowed the project to be completed. The Port of Bundaberg has had untapped potential for many years. It is a sugar port. Unfortunately, the sugar industry locally is in decline—there is less sugar now than there was even 10 years ago, no matter 20 years ago—but the ability for things like the common-use conveyor, which was
funded by the coalition government, and this marine base to add additional economic capability to the port is incredibly important. It will be the catalyst and driver for many jobs into the future.

Congratulations to Pacific Tug and the Pacific Marine Base expansion. I hope they do move on to the second stage and continue to expand, because this linking infrastructure drives new companies, new businesses and new jobs into the region, and that’s why we’re here.

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