Constituency Statement - Hinkler Regional Deal
Mr PITT: I rise to discuss the regional pilot deal that was announced in recent weeks for the electorate of Hinkler. In my electorate, between Bundaberg and Hervey Bay, we have roughly 105,000 voters. As many of the people in this chamber know, as they have heard me talk about this before, we have some challenging circumstances. In fact, the per capita income for my electorate is just $34,000 per year. It has been at that low level, or certainly on the bottom of the statistical area, for many years—in fact, some decades. That is unacceptable. We have challenges around high levels unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, and multigenerational welfare dependence.
Earlier in the year we did get manage to get legislation through for the implementation of a trial of the cashless debit card in my area. That is a tougher but necessary policy. To dovetail with that rollout, we have announced the Hinkler Regional Deal as a pilot program for the electorate. This is about addressing the local economy, because stronger regional economies mean more local jobs. As local members, that is something we all strive for.
Between the two regional council areas, between the Bundaberg Regional Council and the Fraser Coast Regional Council, they are already working on proposals and they are already looking at projects with potential. I look forward to seeing what they put forward. Discussions at official-to-official level have commenced. Of course, the state government does need to be involved. The great benefit of a regional deal like this is that it ties all three levels of government to an economic plan, to an economic strategy, which they are committed to and which is funded. But we need all three levels to be on board.
Whilst I have tried—diligently, I must say—to have meetings with both the Premier and the Deputy Premier of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk and Jackie Trad, to date I have not been successful; but I believe I do have a meeting in a couple of weeks. We need the state to be on board. We need them to demonstrate their commitment, because they are not just a state government for the south-east corner. They should be a government for all of Queensland.
I congratulate our local councils. They are acting diligently. They are working to put together real projects with real economic benefits, but we should consider what we can do with additional linking infrastructure. There is an opportunity here to put in place significant road infrastructure, in particular. In Hervey Bay, I know that they are very passionate about finishing the Boundary Road extension, a project that has been on the table for two decades. That will provide another north-south route through Hervey Bay without having to travel through those very heavily populated and trafficked areas of Main Street, Boat Harbour Drive and along the Charlton Esplanade.
This is about driving local jobs. The projects that have been put forward, such as the presentations proposing the development of a central business district in Hervey Bay and tourist attractions into Bundaberg, will all be considered. But we need to ensure that we have realistic views, that we are putting forward realistic projects and that everyone is on board. Once again, I call on the Premier of Queensland to commit to this project and commit to delivering for our people.