Category: Get the facts

2016 federal election announced

Statement from Keith Pitt MP:

“Only the Coalition has a clear economic plan and a credible pathway to build a secure and prosperous regional Australia.

“The 2016 election will be about trust – which party do you trust to deliver jobs and growth and better services in regional Australia?

“The choice is stark – a strong Coalition who has a plan to manage the economy for all Australians or a high-taxing, big spending Labor Party, who with the Greens and independents, have no plan other than to waste tax-payers money, drive up the cost of living, and drive down the value of your home.

“The Coalition is managing the economy responsibly and planning for the nation’s future infrastructure needs, including building more water storages, rail lines and better roads that will help create a modern nation of thriving communities.

“We are focusing on helping working families, older Australians, and small business with tax cuts now, with more to come as the economy picks up to create more jobs.

“One third of Australians live outside the capital cities and I will continue to fight for a fairer share for regional Australia.

“As a government we have already delivered Free Trade Agreements with China, Japan and Korea which provides unprecedented trade and export opportunities for producers and businesses in our region.

“In Hinkler I have delivered $5.77 million for roads and black spots including Old Toogoom Road and River Heads Road, $29.7 million for the Bruce Highway and $138.636 million in aged care funding and new aged care services.

“Unlike Labor, our plan is comprehensive and properly funded.

“The Coalition’s economic plan will drive growth and jobs across the country with real benefits for individuals and businesses right here in Hinkler.”


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No change to Medicare rebate for pathology services


“The Coalition Government has made no changes to Medicare rebates for pathology services, including common blood tests and pap smears.

“The changes announced in the Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) relate to an inefficient payment – worth between $1.40 and $3.40 – that is paid direct to pathology corporations and is entirely separate to the Medicare rebate.

“This bulk billing incentive payment was introduced in 2009 at a cost of $500 million over five years. However, the bulk billing rates for pathology are at similar levels now as they were prior to the introduction of the incentive payment.

“But for patients, there is no change to the Medicare rebates for diagnostic imaging or pathology services.

“It is only a separate payment paid to diagnostic imaging and pathology providers that is changing for general patients.

“A recent report produced by the Grattan Institute confirms there are no justifiable grounds for large pathology corporations to introduce a $30 co-payment for blood, urine and pap smear tests based on the loss of a small inefficient payment worth just $1.40 to $3.40.”

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Full story on BRC’s failed funding applications

Statement issued by Keith Pitt MP in relation to Bundaberg Regional Council’s ongoing complaints about their failed attempts to secure federal funding:

“I am speaking out today because ratepayers across the Bundaberg region deserve to know the full story. I am absolutely fed up with Bundaberg Regional Council complaining that they’re hard done by. I have tried my best to work with Council behind closed doors over the past two years and have bitten my tongue each time they’ve gone to the media to blame the Federal Government for their financial woes. This will be my last comment on this issue, because I recognise locals just want us to get on with the job we were elected to do.

Not long after I was elected, Council indicated it had applied for federal funding for its multiplex sports complex through Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA). After making further enquiries, I advised Council that other infrastructure funding programs would be better suited. They ignored the advice and, as expected, the Department assessed the project against key eligibility criteria and deemed it ineligible for NDRRA because the proposed multiplex would in no way replace a destroyed or damaged evacuation centre.

Council then decided to follow my recommendation and apply for $8 million through Round One of the National Stronger Regions Fund (NSRF). I provided a letter of support to accompany their multiplex application. I didn’t know it at the time, but their submission – once again – did not meet basic eligibility criteria and was immediately struck out. Mid-way through the assessment process, Council contacted the Department in a mad panic seeking permission to amend their application to meet those criteria. Council expected special treatment, which is simply not allowed. An equal playing field is vital to maintaining the integrity of any competitive tender process.       

Mayor Mal Forman’s accusations this week that the “Bundaberg region continues to be overlooked” demonstrates his inability to accept responsibility for Council’s own failings in Round One. It also shows his ignorance of how Commonwealth funding programs work. The Department assesses each grant application against strict eligibility criteria.  As is the case with Council’s own competitive tender process, the best applications are awarded grants. A project’s success depends not only on its suitability, but also on how many other high quality applications are submitted. There is only a limited amount of funding allocated to a particular grants program. In the case of Round Two NSRF, 513 eligible applications worth $1.5 billion were submitted and 111 projects were approved, totalling $293 million. To put this in perspective, Council’s project was one of 402 nationally that were unsuccessful. Imagine how the Mayor would respond if businesses complained publicly every time their applications for Council tenders were unsuccessful.   

The Mayor claims that Council accepted input from the NSRF experts, Regional Development Australia – Wide Bay Burnett (RDA WBB). If Council did take advice, it did so very selectively. I was not the only one to warn Council against putting all its eggs in one basket. RDA WBB advised all local government applicants to submit more than one project for consideration. It is deeply concerning that the Council didn’t heed that advice, given Mayor Forman is a member of the RDA WBB board. Each NSRF application is assessed on its own individual merit, which means the more applications that are submitted the better our region’s chance of securing federal funding. Had Bundaberg Council been successful with another project, those savings could have been redirected to the Rubyanna Waste Treatment Plant.

I’m as disappointed as anyone that my electorate did not receive funding under Round Two of the NSRF. I, like other politicians, have no influence over the success of NSRF applications. The Department and Auditor-General strictly oversee these programs to ensuring the absolute best use of taxpayers’ funds, and rightly so. I can only hope the Council and other not-for-profit organisations submit applications that are eligible and successful in Round Three.   

Bundaberg Council receives tens-of-millions of dollars from the Federal Government each year for infrastructure, much of which can be spent however Council chooses. They also receive substantial federal funding for environmental programs, aged care services, tourism, events and the like. I regularly lobby Ministers on behalf of Council on a whole range of matters. Asking Council to collaboratively fund even a small project for our region typically results in a prompt “no” response: “we have no money”.

Like households and businesses, all levels of Government must live within their means. As most Australians understand, you can’t continually spend more than you earn. All too often, Bundaberg Council announces new projects without having first considered how it will fund them. The Federal Government is not BRC’s personal ATM. Neither are ratepayers.

Mayor Forman is now threatening to increase rates again. The ratepayers of the Bundaberg region will pass judgement on Council’s inability to balance its own books in March – just as they will have their say on my performance at the 2016 Federal Election.

I stand by my record. The people of Hinkler are my number one priority.”    


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Bundaberg Council unsuccessful in NSRF

Statement from Keith Pitt MP in response to Bundaberg Regional Council’s complaints that it did not receive federal funding through the National Stronger Regions Fund for a second time:

 “I am disappointed that the Bundaberg region has not received funding under Round Two of the National Stronger Regions Fund (NSRF).  

“Applications for federal funding through the NSRF are assessed on merit by the Department of Infrastructure against strict eligibility criteria.

“Bundaberg Regional Council knew its Round One application for a multiplex sports complex did not meet key eligibility criteria, but submitted it anyway. As a result, it was struck out in the very first stage of assessment.

“In Round Two, Council was advised against putting all its eggs in one basket. It was recommended they submit more than one application of various values to increase their chances of success in what is a highly competitive process.

“Instead, they applied for the maximum amount of $10 million for a single project (for waste water treatment).

“At the southern end of the Hinkler electorate, Fraser Coast Regional Council submitted to two applications for Round Two. Their application for $325,000 to increase the capacity of the Brolga Theatre, to attract major events, was successful.  

“Across Australia, 111 projects worth a combined total of $293 million were selected for funding under Round Two. A total of 513 eligible applications were submitted, seeking $1.5 billion in funding. In other words, Bundaberg Council’s application was one of 402 that were unsuccessful.


Additional background: 

If every applicant sought $10 million, only 29 projects would have been funded – compared to more than 100.

Round Three of NSRF will open for applications on 15 January 2016 and close 15 March 2016. Information about NSRF eligibility criteria is available online:

Examples of just some of the recent Federal Funding to Bundaberg Regional Council:

  • $7.6 million Financial Assistance Grants in 2014/15 and $7.5 million in 2015/16 (this funding is untied, meaning it can be spent however Council likes)

  • $12.9 million over 5 years for Roads to Recovery

  • $130,000 in 2014/15 and $563,000 in 2015/16 for road Black Spots

  • $845,000 per year to provide home care services

  • Bundaberg Council has said they want to see more funding for infrastructure, but in 2014-15 they did not make any applications for funding for the Hinkler electorate under the Bridges Renewal Program or the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program. Funding is available, they just haven’t applied for it.




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Wide Bay unemployment NOT worst in country

Statement issued by Keith Pitt MP following incorrect media reports that Wide Bay has the worst unemployment rate in the country at 10.5 per cent:

“Latest ABS figures for Wide Bay show the three month average (more reliable smoothed data) to October 2015 is 8.5 per cent, which actually indicates an annual drop in unemployment of 2.4 per cent compared to the same three month period in 2014.

 “While these three month average figures to October 2015 are very positive, the local unemployment rate is still unacceptably high.

“I understand there are several challenges to gaining employment in the Hinkler electorate, including a lack of job vacancies and a high number of applicants.

“That’s why I’m focussed on attracting investment to the region to stimulate the economy through new and exciting projects like the HMAS Tobruk Military Dive Wreck proposal.

“I’ve launched the community campaign #bundybayandbush encouraging people to support local businesses, so they can create new jobs.

“We’ve introduced a range of measures to help job seekers stand out in what is a highly competitive market.

“We’re also providing incentives for businesses to employ young or mature age job seekers.”   

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Liberal Leadership statement

Statement from Keith Pitt MP:

“In Canberra, I sit with The National Party. This means that I do not get a vote on the Liberal leadership, just as those who sit with the Liberal Party do not get a say in who leads The Nationals.

“In 95 years, The Nationals have had just 12 leaders. Our Party continues to be a strong voice for regional Australia.   

“Yesterday The Nationals negotiated a new Coalition Agreement with the Liberal Party to form Government, with Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister.

“Agreement highlights include maintaining the Coalition’s existing policies on climate change, transferring the responsibility for water policy from environment to agriculture and establishing a new jobs program to address high unemployment in regional areas. It also includes proper Cabinet consideration of amendments to the Australian Competition Consumer Act to prevent abuse of market power and maintaining the existing policy to refer the same sex marriage issue to a plebiscite of the people in our next term.

 “I have enjoyed a good working relationship with Malcom Turnbull over the past two years as a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications, and I expect that will continue.

 “The people of Hinkler are my number one priority. ” 

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Burrum Bridge statement

Statement from Keith Pitt MP re Labor’s claims that the LNP broke its promises to fund feasibility study for Burrum Bridge:

“I first outlined my in principle support for the Burrum Bridge proposal in my maiden speech in November 2013.

“It was one of several projects I mentioned as being potential economic boosters for the Hinkler region.

“Given that projects like this typically take years to plan and cost hundreds-of-millions of dollars, I have not promised any Commonwealth funding for pre-feasibility studies either before or since my election.

“Hinkler residents I speak to are more concerned with finding work and paying their electricity bills.

“I welcome Mr Gubbins sudden support for the project, but let’s not forget Labor had six years in Government to fund a feasibility study and did nothing.”   

Note: At the 2010 election, Former Member for Hinkler Paul Neville said a Coalition Government (if elected) would provide $100,000 for a pre-feasibility study. The Coalition did not win Government at the 2010 election.


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Labor candidate for Hinkler announced

Statement from Keith Pitt MP in response to Labor announcing its candidate for Hinkler:   

“Every community in the Hinkler electorate is important to me.

“I frequently attend events and meet with community organisations at the southern end of the electorate to hear Hervey Bay residents’ views and concerns.  

“Eight senior members of the Coalition Government – including Julie Bishop, Peter Dutton and Michael Keenan – have hosted community forums and workshops with me in Hervey Bay in the past two years.  

“And I am available for private constituency meetings by appointment at the Fraser Coast Council Chambers.  

“I make a point of visiting Hinkler’s many smaller communities on a regular basis to ensure all residents have direct access to their elected representative.

“Just last week, I held post-Budget listening ‘Pitt Stops’ in Bundaberg, Howard, Burrum Heads, Hervey Bay, Bargara, Childers and Woodgate.

“I can also be contacted by email, telephone and Facebook – my door is always open.

“I trust Mr Gubbins will make himself available to people in communities like Burnett Heads and Booyal between now and when an election is called, and not focus solely on Hervey Bay.”       

Ministerial visits at Hervey Bay end of the electorate

Julie Bishop – retirement village community forum

Michael Keenan – community crime forum. Meetings with local law society and chamber of commerce

Peter Dutton – opening of St Stephen’s hospital

Paul Fletcher – mobile communications forum

Warren Truss – numerous

Marise Payne – meeting with social service providers

Luke Hartsuyker  – visit to a jobactive service provider and small business forum

Darren Chester – naval dive wreck meeting and veterans afternoon tea


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Food monitoring

Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said the National Produce Monitoring System (NPMS) trial was a perfect example of the waste and bureaucratic duplication that occurred under the previous Federal Labor Government.

“Monitoring the domestic use of agricultural chemicals is the responsibility of the state and territory governments,” Mr Pitt said.

“We have strict rules about which chemicals can be used in Australia, as well as the rate and method of application.

“Our farmers are committed to maintaining Australia’s reputation for producing the safest and freshest food in the world.

“Labor’s NPMS was a duplication of the work already being done by the States and Territories, that created yet another layer of red tape for our farmers.

“If left to run its full five years, the NPMS trial would have cost taxpayers $25 million on top of the three federally funded monitoring schemes already underway.

“The Federal Government monitors imported and exported food at Australia’s borders, via the Imported Food Inspection Scheme and the National Residue Survey.

“Food Standards Australia New Zealand – an independent statutory agency within the Federal Health Department – regularly assesses consumers’ dietary exposure to pesticide residue, and other contaminants.

“Major supermarket chains also have their own quality assurance systems to monitor residues, such as FreshTest.”

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Council’s multiplex not a cyclone shelter

Statement from Keith Pitt MP in response to claims Bundaberg Council’s multiplex, if complete, would have protected the community from Cyclone Marcia:   

“Bundaberg Regional Council has applied for $8million in Federal funding for its Multi-Use Sport and Community Centre through the National Stronger Regions Fund (NSRF).

“Round One of NSRF closed on 28 November last year and applications are currently being assessed by the Department. The successful applicants will be announced in May this year.  

“The Council has made the NSRF application on the basis that the centre would foster economic opportunities and create jobs by attracting large-scale sporting and community events to the Bundaberg Region.

“As I understand it, the multiplex will in no way be a cyclone shelter but it could potentially double as an emergency evacuation facility during flood events.   

“Council originally applied for Federal funding for its multiplex through the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA), which the project was ineligible for.”  

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