Adjournment Debate – Local Government elections, Hervey Bay Historical Village and Museum 50th anniversary

Monday, 18 March 2024

Mr PITT: Over the weekend we had the local government elections in Queensland. I’m always happy to hand out some free advice, and I have some for new councillors and returning ones: stick to roads, rates and rubbish. I think that is what the ratepayers expect, it’s what they elect you for, and I hope that into the future that is what the local government elections will result in.

We have a new mayor in Bundaberg, Helen Blackburn, and in Hervey Bay—the Fraser Coast Regional Council—George Seymour, the former mayor, has been returned. I sent a message to Mr Seymour in which I suggested it looked pretty close, but I think he’s won 70-30 or somewhere around there. So congratulations to both of those.

I want to make very brief comments about the ECQ, the Electoral Commission of Queensland, and the way that this count has been conducted. We have heard reports across the state of voting booths being closed early or running out of ballots, and I have to say that the count has been moving at less than snail’s pace. In fact, in some booths, I’m told, they’ve counted postals before they moved to prepolls, where prepolls amounted to tens of thousands of votes. There are a lot of people who put a lot of time into an election, and many are close. We have a lot of divisions in my region that are still too close to call, and I think it is incumbent on the ECQ, quite simply, to do better. If they can’t, they should give it back to the local councils to run the elections themselves as they did previously. They are more than capable of appointing a returning officer and running a local election for a council.

We have a number of retiring and non-recontesting councillors, and I want to acknowledge them for their service. They include Jade Wellings, David Lee and David Lewis of the Fraser Coast Regional Council, and Wayne Honor and Tanya McLoughlin of the Bundaberg Regional Council. In fact, Councillor Lee, for his very last event on his very last day as a councillor, attended with me the Hervey Bay Historical Village and Museum 50th anniversary—in Hervey Bay, would you believe?—and there was an extraordinary turnout. The fact that it’s been there since 1974 is, quite simply, incredible. Longevity for organisations—for community providers and companies—is very difficult to achieve, and this is an organisation that is run solely by volunteers and has been since its inception. They have a remarkable selection of equipment. So for anyone out there looking for somewhere to go—whether it is vintage machinery or other items that float your boat—please get down to the Hervey Bay Historical Village and Museum. The president, John Anderson, a long-serving member of the Hervey Bay Historical Village and Museum, has done a remarkable job.

I want to point out just one piece of equipment that was there amongst the vintage machinery, and that is a Cat Diesel Thirty-Five crawler tractor. I’m advised by the member for Flynn, who knows a bit about crawler tractors, equipment and cattle and quite a lot about agriculture, that it is as rare as rocking horse droppings. He didn’t actually put it in those terms, but it was close. I don’t think it would be quite parliamentary if I used the full term, which is known to many of us. I’m sure the member for Hunter might have heard that before on the odd occasion. So you can go and see a Cat Diesel Thirty-Five crawler tractor at the Hervey Bay Historical Village and Museum, and that is quite something to see.

Whilst I was at Hervey Bay, I went and had a look at the Boundary Road extension, something that the coalition government committed to as part of the Hinkler Regional Deal. It is very near completion. It is a substantial change. It provides another route in Hervey Bay across the city from top to bottom. It is desperately needed, and I want to congratulate Denis Chapman, one of the local councillors, for the work you did lobbying for that road, which is close to completion. As part of the regional deal, construction has also started on the CBD redevelopment, so Hervey Bay will now have a town centre thanks to the regional deal for the Hinkler area, which we negotiated as part of the last coalition government. Very helpfully, of course, the Labor senators came and turned the sod for me. They must have lost my invitation, I have to say, but I’m sure it won’t happen again. I’m sure there’ll be another opportunity. But it’s good to see that these things are coming to fruition, because it makes a difference for the people I represent. That’s why we fought for it so hard for so long.

The Pialba Bowls Club, under the Stronger Communities Program, received $10,000 which, unfortunately, this Labor government has now cut.

In the last round of $150,000 in grant funding, my office received more than $1.1 million in applications. That is how important it is, particularly for regional areas. I would implore the Treasurer: you have an opportunity in the budget to bring it back. That $10,000 meant air-conditioning for the Pialba Bowls Club. For our seniors, who find it difficult in hot times, that is a lifesaver, literally. I congratulate them on the work that they’ve done.

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