Category: Media Release

Agriculture Minister hears first hand from Hinkler farmers

Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce and Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt today met with industry bodies to discuss the issues that are important to local farmers.

Mr Joyce and Mr Pitt met with representatives from Isis Canegrowers, Bundaberg Canegrowers and Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers (BFVG).

Mr Joyce and members of The Nationals Partyroom toured Macadamias Australia and Farm Fresh Fine Foods.

“It was great to see how local produce is being processed and marketed, to make Australian-made products the first choice for many of the world’s largest and best-known food manufacturers,” Mr Joyce said.

Mr Pitt said he was absolutely delighted to host The Nationals Partyroom in Bundaberg.  

“The Partyroom’s visit to Hinkler is a clear demonstration of The Nationals commitment to regional Australia,” Mr Pitt said.

“It is a unique opportunity to discuss matters that are important to Hinkler farmers, such as electricity prices, red tape, biosecurity and labour.   

“This visit is also an opportunity to show the rest of the country that, after a tough couple of years, Hinkler is open for business.”

Mr Pitt encouraged locals to make a submission on the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, which will outline where this nation takes its agriculture sector.

“Late last year the Coalition released the terms of reference for the White Paper, signalling the start of the 12 month process,” he said.

“Achieving a stronger agricultural sector will lead to higher farm-gate returns, more jobs, more investment and stronger regional communities.”

 To find out more visit

Media contacts:

JOYCE: Gerard McManus 0477 391 580

PITT: Larine Statham 0427 653 814

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Pitt announces $1.5 million for Trades Skills Centres

Stronger links will be forged between local schools and potential employers, with Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt announcing almost $1.5 million for two new Trades Skills Centres.

Mr Pitt said the Burnett Youth Learning Centre would receive about $447,000 to purchase equipment needed for students to attain qualifications in agriculture.

He said Shalom College would receive more than $1 million to construct a workshop, where students will learn the skills needed in the trades of cabinetmaking, carpentry, fitting and turning.

“These Trades Skills Centres will improve the delivery of vocational education and training in schools, focussing specifically on improving collaboration between schools, business and industry,” Mr Pitt said.

“As a qualified tradesperson and the former owner of a registered training organisation, I understand the benefits these centres will bring to individuals and the Hinkler community more broadly.

“To be able to receive trade training in your home town is a significant advantage and should help improve apprentice completion rates.”

Shalom College Principal Dan McMahon said the facility would allow students to complete Certificate courses, using industry-standard equipment. 

“These skills are highly sought after by industry and will help make Shalom students job ready,” Mr McMahon said.

Diocesan Director of Catholic Education Leesa Jeffcoat welcomed the initiative, saying she looked forward to the many benefits it would bring to students, Shalom College and the local economy.

Media contact: Larine Statham 0427 653 814        

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World-class cancer facility opens in Bundaberg

Cancer patients living in the Wide Bay-Burnett region will have better access to world-class treatment and therapy with the opening of a new $11.3 million Oncology Centre in Bundaberg.

The Federal Minister for Health Peter Dutton officially opened the new facility today.

The facility, which is now treating around 25 patients a day, features six chemotherapy chairs, two radiotherapy treatment ‘bunkers’, CT scanning, ultrasound and digital x-ray services.

Mr Dutton said the Australian Government was committed to delivering essential cancer services to more patients living outside of the major cities and contributed $5.6 million to the centre.

“Many parts of rural and regional Australia don’t have convenient access to cancer services, and as a consequence, have higher rates of mortality from many types of cancer,” Mr Dutton said.

“In partnership with State and Territory governments and local communities, the Australian Government is focused on giving more Australians access to the services they need and continuing to work with the health sector to improve referral protocols and care pathways.”

Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said the Bundaberg Oncology Centre would significantly reduce the inconvenience and cost for local cancer patients, who previously had to travel hundreds of kilometres to Nambour or Brisbane to receive some treatments.

“Radiotherapy treatments can take between two and seven weeks, so having these services available locally will ease some of the burden on patients and their loved ones during a challenging time,” Mr Pitt said.

Australian Government funding has also been used to upgrade the Oceania Oncology cancer centre at Maroochydore including upgraded radiotherapy equipment which will further improve cancer treatments on the Sunshine Coast.

Media contacts: Minister – John Wiseman 0401 776 108 or Mr Pitt – Larine Statham 0427 653 814        




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$1.7million to help Hinkler residents live at home for longer

Elderly and disabled Hinkler residents will get extra support to remain in their home for longer, thanks to a boost in Federal Government funding for six service providers.

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt today announced $1.77 million for local Home and Community Care (HACC) programs.

“In Hinkler, where a large portion of the community is retired, we know there is a real need for domestic assistance, social support and transport, and that’s where the majority of funding will go,” Mr Pitt said.

“These services are essential for people who are frail, elderly or disabled to stay safe and well, while remaining connected to their community and in control of their own lives.

“The Australian Government believes that older Australians should have the support and care they need to continue to live at home as long as they choose.

“These local organisations do an amazing job providing meals and helping clients with cleaning, home maintenance, transport and nursing care.”

Anglicare Southern Queensland Community Service Manager, Sue Montgomery said the new funding was welcome and would enable Anglicare to provide services to more aged people and people with disabilities in the Wide Bay Burnett region.

“This funding enables us to enhance our existing support services, and we are looking to introduce new services in the areas of personal care, domestic assistance and social support,” Ms Montgomery said.

The funding is part of a $240 million investment under the Commonwealth Home and Community Care (HACC) program.

Media contact: Larine Statham 0427 653 814

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Coalition delivers almost $5 million for Hervey Bay roads

Two of Hervey Bay’s main arterial roads will undergo long awaited, and much-needed, upgrades with the Australian Government today committing $4.75 million for Old Toogoom Road and River Heads Road.

Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said the funding confirmation was the culmination of the commitment he and Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt made during the federal election campaign.

“With hundreds of locals and tourists using these roads each day, the Coalition understands how vitally important it is that they are of a high standard,” Mr Truss said.

“The Australian Government will provide $1 million to complete the work on Old Toogoom Road, which the RACQ has previously named as being among the five worst roads in Queensland.

“We will also contribute $3.75 million towards the upgrade of River Heads Road.

“This funding is in addition to the money already being spent by the Australian Government to repair the damage caused by recent natural disasters.”

Through the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA), the Australian Government is funding up to 75 per cent of the cost of restoration works to stabilise the road embankment about 100 metres north of the River Heads Road and Bengston Road intersection, as well as the cost of pavement rehabilitation along Toogoom Road.

Mr Pitt said he had long advocated for the upgrades on behalf of locals and the business community.

“People living in regional Australia deserve quality roads that are safe and comfortable to travel on,” Mr Pitt said.

“Likewise, accommodation, hospitality and retail businesses play a vital role in the local economy, and their growth depends on good transport links.

“The tourism industry is one of the region’s biggest employers, and these significant road works will give the Hinkler economy a much needed boost.

“I am pleased that the Fraser Coast Regional Council has also allocated $3.2 million towards the upgrades.”

The funding will be available once negotiations between the Commonwealth and Fraser Coast Council are complete.

For Mr Truss: Kate Barwick 0408 072 809
For Mr Pitt: Larine Statham 0427 653 814



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Keith Pitt announces $1.14M to make farming smarter

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt has announced $1.14 million to help Queensland’s fruit and vegetable growers reduce production costs and protect the environment.

Mr Pitt said the Landcare Innovation Grant had been awarded to the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) to demonstrate the benefits of using variable rate technology across Queensland’s 30,000 hectares of vegetable production land.

“I look forward to seeing how this project improves productivity across the Hinkler electorate’s many farms, enhances soil health and reduces any potential off-farm impacts,” he said.

Mr Pitt said the project was one of 31 Landcare Innovation Grants approved by Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce.

“These grants, totalling $21.2 million, have been awarded to a range of industry and research organisations across Australia to reduce input costs and generate better returns at the farm gate, while making sure our natural resources are here for future generations,” Mr Pitt said.

DAFF Principal Extension Officer Ian Layden said variable rate technology enabled growers to apply different rates of fertilizer and pesticides across a single field, to target areas showing variability in crop growth.

“It will assist producers to reduce inputs, such as nutrients and chemicals,” he said.

“We also expect there to be some reductions in labour costs, as farming operations become more precise and attuned to crop needs.”

Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers Executive Officer Peter Hockings said the project showed how producers, regional industry organisations and State and Federal Governments can work together, applying the latest technology advancements available, to overcome production challenges.

“With the rising pressure to meet global food security demands, it is more important than ever to encourage innovation and adoption of technology in the horticulture industry,” he said.

Media contact: Larine Statham 0427 653 814

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100 Days Report Shows New Government Focused on Families, Small Business and Economy

The Coalition has today released a report on its first 100 days, showing it is getting on with the job it was elected to do.

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said he was pleased with what he and the new Government had achieved since the September 7 election.

“We are implementing the plan that we took to the election to build a strong, prosperous economy and a safe, secure Australia,” Mr Pitt said.

“I was pleased to speak on the Carbon Tax Repeal Bills shortly before they passed the House of Representatives. The package of bills is currently before the Senate.

“Scrapping the Carbon Tax will save an average family $550 every year and will remove a $9 Billion weight from the economy – creating more jobs and opportunities.”

Mr Pitt said Operation Sovereign Borders had slowed illegal boat arrivals by about 80 per cent, meaning fewer people were risking their lives at sea.

He said the Coalition was working to bring the Federal Budget back under control.

“The interest bill on the debt we inherited from Labor is averaging about $10 Billion a year – that’s money we could be spending to improve services, deliver infrastructure or cut taxes,” Mr Pitt said.

“Like households, Governments must live within their means.”

Mr Pitt said the Coalition had successfully negotiated a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Korea, which will benefit the region’s sugar, horticulture and seafood exporters.

“We’ve released the terms of reference for an Agriculture Competitiveness White Paper, which will make recommendations to generate jobs, improve farm gate returns and increase investment for economic growth,” he said.

“The first comprehensive review of competition policy in 20 years is also underway, to ensure small to medium sized businesses are getting a fair go.

“And the Productivity Commission has been tasked with undertaking an inquiry to ensure the childcare system is more flexible, affordable and accessible for Australian families.”

Mr Pitt said the Government committed a total of $40 million to help the people of the Philippines affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

“More than 700 Hinkler residents were born in the Philippines, making up the fifth largest migrant group in the electorate and so I was pleased the Australian Government sprang into action so quickly to assist their loved ones back home.”

Mr Pitt said his first 100 days as the Federal Member for Hinkler had been very productive:

  • As Hinkler’s representative in Canberra, Mr Pitt has so far delivered seven speeches and directed four questions to Ministers in the House of Representatives
  • Mr Pitt secured a total of $850,000 for three of his key election commitments, including projects at Hervey Bay Hockey, the Bundaberg Surf Life Saving Club and the Hervey Bay Surf Lifesaving Club
  • Progressed applications for ANZAC Centenary Local Grants Program, to help local community groups restore and build monuments that commemorate World War I. He also represented Hinkler at the Remembrance Day Service at the National War Memorial
  • Met with Assistant Minister for Employment Luke Hartsuyker to discuss the Coalition’s plan to help more Australians find and keep a job. The number of unemployed people in the Wide Bay-Burnett region increased an average of 12.2 per cent per annum since 2007 under Labor
  • Appointed a voting member on two of the Parliament’s 15 Joint Standing Committees (Infrastructure and Communications) & (Privileges and Members’ Interests)
  • Appointed a member on three of Coalition’s Policy Committees (Infrastructure and Regional Development), (Industry) & (Communications)
  • Sought and received briefings from NBN Co and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull about the progress of the National Broadband Network
  • Met with industry representatives and bodies, such as the Transport Workers Union, to hear first-hand about the issues confronting all sectors of the local Hinkler economy

“The Coalition is off to a strong start. I will continue to work hard for the people of Hinkler in 2014, to build the stronger, more prosperous country that we all want,” Mr Pitt said.

Media contact: Larine Statham 0427 653 814

Click here to view the publication

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Keith Pitt appointed to two Parliamentary Committees

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt has been appointed a voting member of two Parliamentary Committees.

Mr Pitt said he was pleased to serve on two of the Parliament’s 15 House Standing Committees. They are:

  • Joint Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications
  • Joint Standing Committee on Privileges and Members’ Interests

“These committees are tasked with examining any matter referred to them by a Minister or the House of Representatives, including pre-legislation proposals, bills, motions, petitions, votes, spending, reports and documents,” Mr Pitt said.

“Committees provide a forum for debate of public policy and they enable the public to have direct input into Parliament through hearings and submissions. The committees may report to Parliament and make recommendations.”

Mr Pitt said he had also been appointed to three of the Coalition’s Policy Committees. They are:

  • Infrastructure and Regional Development
  • Industry
  • Communications

“Prior to my election I was a canefarmer, tradesman, engineer and business owner,” he said.

“I believe that life experience will serve me well as a committee member, particularly during discussions about the impact our policies have on local people.”

Further information about the committees and their roles can be found online:

Media contact: Larine Statham 0427 653 814

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NBN Co recommends plan to save taxpayers and consumers money

The strategic review of the National Broadband Network released today recommends the project be completed using a mix of technologies to save $32 billion, keep monthly bills lower and deliver the NBN to all Australians four years sooner than under Labor’s plan.

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt, an electrical engineer, said the report would enable the Coalition to draw a line in the sand and finally progress what has been the most wasteful and mismanaged infrastructure project in Australia’s history.

“The review shows the true situation is far worse than any of us were led to believe, with Labor wasting Billions of dollars that can never be recovered,” Mr Pitt said.
Key findings:

  • If Labor’s policies are left in place, Australian households will pay up to 80 per cent more for broadband, with bills increasing by $43 per month;
  • The roll out is currently two years behind schedule, with final completion due 11 years later than promised by Kevin Rudd;
  • The cost to taxpayers of completing the NBN under Labor’s plan has blown out to $73 Billion. That’s $29 Billion more than we were told.

Mr Pitt, who has been appointed to both the Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications and the Coalition Policy Committee on Communications, said this thorough and objective analysis of the NBN would enable the Coalition to chart a path forward.

“NBN Co has advised the Government that to deliver broadband sooner, at less cost to taxpayers and more affordably for consumers, the NBN should be completed using a mix of technology,” he said.

“Nine out of ten Australians will receive download speeds of 50 megabits per second or more by 2019.

“An average broadband bill will cost $72 per month using a mix of technology, compared to $139 under Labor’s plan.

“When you consider less than 400 Million of the world’s 1.6 billion internet devices are PCs, it’s easy to see why using a mix of technologies is ideal. People are moving towards portable wireless devices.

“This approach to the NBN brings Australia into line with the broadband upgrades being rolled out around the world.”
Mr Pitt said the rapid and ongoing evolution of technology meant that by the time Labor had connected fibre to every home, the technology would have been superseded.

“We would have spent Billions of dollars more than we needed to on a network that would by then be outdated, and too costly for low to middle income households to connect to,” he said.

Mr Pitt said the release of the report today meant that for the first time since the NBN was announced, Australians now had access to the same information as the Government.

“The Coalition is committed to ensuring Australians get the facts about the NBN,” he said.

“Separate to the Strategic Review, the Government has instructed the Department of Communications to report on quality of internet access in every single neighbourhood in Australia.

“Early next year, the Government will launch a website to allow businesses and households to check their broadband speeds and see where they are ranked. The Government will use this information to ensure under-served areas get the NBN first.

“A new NBN rollout schedule will also be released in 2014, along with a revised NBN Co Corporate Plan.”

Media contact: Larine Statham 0427 653 814



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Free Trade Agreement a windfall for Hinkler

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt has welcomed the successful negotiation of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the Australian and Korean Governments, which will benefit the region’s sugar, horticulture and seafood exporters.

Mr Pitt said the Coalition Government this week reached agreement with the Republic of Korea.

The Agreement will be signed and come into operation following domestic approval process in Australia and Korea.

“Korea is already Australia’s biggest export market for sugar,” Mr Pitt said.

“Under the FTA, tariffs will be immediately eliminated on key Australian agricultural exports like sugar, mangoes and macadamias.

“Agricultural exports to Korea will be 73 per cent higher in 2030 than they otherwise would have been in the absence of this FTA.

“This Agreement shows the Coalition is committed to creating opportunities in regional communities and recognises agriculture as one of Australia’s economic strengths.

“The Coalition is making it easier, not harder, to do business in Australia.

“Reducing the cost of doing business by fostering strong relationships with our major trading partners will give businesses the confidence they need to create jobs.

“Today’s announcement is a significant windfall for our region.”

Media contact: Larine Statham 0427 653 814



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