PICS: Llew O'Brien launches election campaign in Gympie
A RAINY start to the weekend didn't dampen the spirits of incumbent Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien, who launched the first leg of his official election campaign at Gunabul Homestead on Saturday morning.
Close friends, supporters and three generations of his family joined Mr O'Brien at the same venue where he married his wife Sharon in 1993.
"It does make me that little bit more nervous than normal,” Mr O'Brien began.
Mr O'Brien thanked Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the National Party Michael McCormack for joining him at the launch and immediately set the scene for a crucial decision, both in his own seat and across the country.
"There is a very, very clear choice at this upcoming election. We've now been in government for two terms, and we've done some incredible things,” he began.
"We were handed an economy that was a basket case. We handed the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Labor government some $96 billion in the bank and they handed us back $280-odd billion of debt, and structural deficits to the economy as far as the eye could see.
"Pulling up Labor's debt was like ... pulling up an out-of-control freight train. It's a big job but we've done it, done it without raising taxes, through managing the economy properly, and delivering for regional Australia.
"We understand decentralisation isn't just a term ... that refers to moving public service out of Canberra and Melbourne. Decentralisation is about attracting people to the regions, it's about shifting people because they want to shift.
"You can only shift people from the cities to the regions by having something like a $100 billion infrastructure plan. You create environment and infrastructure.”
Mr O'Brien then pointed to some coalition-funded examples like upgrades to Section C and Section D on the Bruce Highway, and the Coondoo Creek bridge.
He also referenced cash injections into local businesses, such as $5 million to Nolan Meats "to help them expand and create 200 jobs” and $370,000 to Suncoast Gold Macadamias.
He went on to discuss the vitality of securing an attractive future for Wide Bay's "billion dollar agricultural industry”, decrying limitations of land rights for farmers and promising to protect those industries from Labor's "ideological beliefs”.
The Deputy PM stressed the importance of seeing Mr O'Brien retain his seat at the election.
"I know you've got someone who will never take no for an answer easily. He will fight hard to do what's right for you people and for everybody in Wide Bay,” Mr McCormack said
"For those who vote for him, and for people who should vote for him but don't vote for him, it's your job to convince them, as many of them, to get behind him to continue this great area's future, it can only prosper, it can only go forward with Llew O'Brien as member.”
Mr McCormack heaped praise on Mr O'Brien for his achievements as member so far, including his instrumental role in successfully pressuring the federal government into holding the banking Royal Commission and securing funding for the Section D Cooroy to Curra upgrades.
Mr O'Brien took to Facebook after making his second stop in Maryborough.
"The LNP Wide Bay campaign is officially underway after my good friend Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals Leader Michael McCormack visited Gympie and Maryborough to talk about all the great things the Liberal and Nationals Government is doing locally and nationally,” he said.
"Together, we're cutting taxes and delivering record funding to schools and hospitals. We're fixing the Bruce Highway and investing in agriculture and manufacturing to create more than 1000 local jobs. We're providing new services and supporting community and sporting groups to build a better Wide Bay.
"We've achieved much and there's a lot more to do.
"I'm grateful for the efforts of so many people who are helping me to provide strong and effective representation to achieve results for everyone in Wide Bay.”