Infrastructure, jobs, opportunities top 2017 priorities
INFRASTRUCTURE, real job prospects, increased services, educational and sporting opportunities are among Gympie MP Tony Perrett's 2017 vision for Gympie.
Mr Perrett said he was looking forward to the region putting into place measures and infrastructure which secure its increasing attractiveness as a place to work, open or start a business, raise a family and retire.
"We need to build on our strengths, successes and achievements so far as well as make sure we undertake sensible long term planning decisions which will provide security for the future.
"This is most likely an election year and I am looking forward to real commitments and expenditure and not just paying lip service and using window dressing measures which are designed for photo opportunities and not much more.
"I will not accept re-badging, re-announcements and re-cycling and instead look forward to real and achievable commitments and the completion of many projects and programmes which started more than three years ago under the former LNP government.
"This year we should see the completion of Stage A of the Bruce Hwy upgrade which will cut travel times to and from the south.
"Stage C will also be close to completion by the end of the year.
"This will ensure that local businesses can get their produce to the right markets and transport corridors to sell throughout Australia and overseas as well as make it easier for tourists to come and enjoy the beauty of our region.
"We need to work with our 4290 existing local small businesses to improve real long term employment opportunities and not just provide short term subsidies which run out as soon as the magnifying glass is taken off the region.
"The Gympie region is abundant with manufacturing and agriculture industries which are being bogged down with too much regulation and restrictions which are preventing local employers from putting people on for the times when they are needed.
"Business has nowhere to go when fixed costs rise and regulations and rules become more burdensome and they either have to close their doors or lay off workers.
"A strong, thriving and unhindered manufacturing and agricultural sector helps to provide security for local businesses and employees, and confidence and security to employ more workers.
"Primary industry, including agriculture, forestry and fisheries, is one of the key economic drivers of this region and it is important that government reduces the pointless bureaucratic red tape and regulations which are choking it from having the confidence to value add, borrow and invest.
"We all know that Nolans Meats is a prime example of a local business which has been able to support local employment and investment by value adding and servicing both Australian domestic meat consumers as well as international markets.
"Smart targeted investment and support for projects which actually help business to grow such as the expansion of the Sunshine Coast Airport is a wise and prudent use of taxpayers' money which should pay enormous dividends for employment in the broader region.
"Long term planning for water security is needed when population growth triggers a demand for water and energy for residents, manufacturing and agriculture.
"As a strong advocate of proper planning I am pleased that the previous LNP Government put in place the Mary Valley Economic Development Strategy which was necessary after the disastrous waste of more than $500 million on the failed Traveston Dam project by previous Labor Governments.
"It ensured that the bulk of the land has now successfully returned into private ownership which has created great excitement about the financial and lifestyle opportunities available in the Valley.
"On the back of the successful Christmas and summer holiday period it is important that we continue to make sure that the Cooloola Coast continues to keep its attractiveness as an affordable, laid back, family friendly destination with a reasonable level of services and facilities.
"Government and bureaucrats should remember that tourism is also about regions like ours and not just the major centres of the Gold and Sunshine Coasts and the major cities.
"Tourism is about giving everyone the chance to take a break and investment needs to be in regions like ours.
"We have excellent primary and secondary school facilities in both the private and public sector and it is time the government got behind Gympie and supported the growth of our tertiary education sector.
"It's about time the government made a decision to allow the University of the Sunshine Coast to increase its campus presence and enrolments in Gympie and allow it to lease an empty and unused TAFE building at the site.
"Putting the decision on hold for two years is long enough.
"I look forward to the delivery of the CT scanner at the Gympie hospital in the next few months and the progressing of the Gympie Hospital Masterplan.
"It is a pity that much of this was put on hold after the last state election and has therefore delayed the delivery of many services and upgrades to the region.
"As a region which embraces and is proud of its many sporting codes and opportunities I look forward to support the delivery of a consolidated sporting shooters facility.
"With an unemployment rate of 8.2% in the September quarter Gympie needs greater investment in local infrastructure projects, maintenance and improvement of existing facilities and providing support and incentives for local business that want to grow in the area.
"It does not matter which department is responsible many of the Government's policies have a flow on effect to the local jobs market.
"Every policy which does not equate to better employment outcomes, improved chances for finding jobs such as securing better qualifications and access to employers, and providing support for our local industries is not a prudent and smart way to use taxpayers' dollars.
"The key challenges for this region are addressing the high levels of unemployment, making sure our infrastructure is in place for supporting future growth and business opportunities, upgrading and making our road network safer and more efficient, raising the education levels of locals so that they have better chances for securing meaningful work, differentiating ourselves from other regions in attracting tourists and providing quality facilities for health, education and sport.
"This will only be achieved by targeting direct expenditure on a number of projects throughout the region and that Gympie receives its fair share
"That is why I have ensured that a steady stream of LNP Shadow Ministers have come to the region to see firsthand and hear from locals who have advocated the importance of many of these projects," he said.