LETTERS: Are the big parties taking us for granted?
Taken for granted?
WARREN Truss was the Member for Wide Bay.
He presided over the electorate for over 25 long years, and as evidenced by letters to the editor and voters response, did little to improve things in his electorate, apart from his keen interest in the mining industry.
He claimed success for the Bruce Hwy and the halting of the Traveston dam, whilst in truth it was the wonderful efforts of the local people who opposed what he wanted to do with both.
He maintained this pattern during his whole term of office.
The ALP is promoting a young woman called Lucy Stanton. She is determined to do something about employment, jobs, education,and health in the electorate, and has been working to that end always.
Lucy is not only interested in those areas, but she also wants the Great Sandy Strait to come under the UNESCO purview.
This will increase tourism, bringing a host of jobs into the area, and international tourists.
It will also help to maintain the safety of our Great Barrier Reef, and will assist in keeping it free from the damage by mining companies.
The Great Barrier Reef is already under World Heritage Protection, which was not due to Truss's efforts, but needs a watchful eye over it.
Lucy Stanton has great plans for TAFE in the electorate, which will be great for our young people, who at this stage have no option but to travel outside the electorate if they are seeking an education or vocational training.
Truss has had over 25 years to fix the things which are wrong in his electorate.. he doesn't have much to show for that time apart from a Deputy Prime Ministership.
It is now time to let someone else have a go.
They could not do any worse. As Tony Windsor, the independent candidate for New England, so wisely stated: "If country people keep tying themselves to one side, they will always be taken for granted".
It is time.
We deserve better
I find it somewhat paradoxical for the retiring Member for Wide Bay Warren Truss to state in his recent letter (to the Fraser Coast Chronicle):
"Unfortunately some of the applications from genuinely disadvantaged areas have not been of high quality".
This is precisely why regions such as Wide Bay need support and targeted federal input to improve outcomes for the region.
It is nigh on impossible to know how best to apply for funding such as the NSRF if you don't have guidance with this process.
Wide Bay, with it's high 8.9% unemployment rate, suffers disadvantage from cradle to grave for many sectors of the population.
For Warren Truss to state in the same letter:
"Talking about only the negative aspects of life in the regions damages local confidence, hurts the economy and encourages people to move to the city" ignores the reality of this disadvantage and the generational impact of this.
To pretend that these negative aspects of life in the Wide Bay region don't exist is wrong.
This is typical of the mindset of the Liberal National Party - let's paper over, or their "let's sweep it under the carpet approach".
It's time for this to change.
We, as residents, deserve better and at the upcoming election will vote accordingly.
It beggars belief that the unemployment rate here is at 8.9% yet just down the road on the Sunshine Coast unemployment rate is 50% less at 4.5%; Toowoomba, a region with less going for it in many ways, has an enviable unemployment rate of 5.2% in comparison to us.
My question for the retiring member for Wide Bay Warren Truss, how is it that this area represented by you since 1990 is so far behind the eight ball?
Why have you failed in boosting employment for the region and as Clementine Norton (Fraser Coast Chronicle editor) stated in her editorial on May 4: "But why should we die earlier, have less access for healthcare, employment and education opportunities as a result?"
I will be encouraging everyone I know to think very carefully about who they vote for on July 2.
History tells us that to vote for the LNP candidate will fail our region.
We deserve better.
Who will change the path for regional Australia?
In his final speech in Parliament, former Deputy Prime Minister The Hon Warren Truss told his colleagues to remember people living in rural areas are also Australians and "have a right to expect a fair share of our nation's growth and prosperity."
This is an incredible statement from a man who held the second-highest office of our land.
The Deputy Prime Minister bowed out acknowledging career highlights but also the lower life expectancy, lower rates of Year 12 completion and high unemployment rates in his own electorate, stating, "It is unacceptable that we should have unemployment rates double that of Brisbane."
That statement must give us pause - even more so because these facts are not exclusive to the now retired Deputy Prime Minister's electorate.
These facts are common throughout regional Australia and continue to remain despite successive Coalition and Labor governments stating they will stand up for regional Australia.
We've heard much talk on the campaign trail this week from both sides of politics about jobs, growth and youth unemployment in an effort to win over voters in Queensland.
Accessing jobs remains one of Queensland's greatest challenges. Regional capital cities such as the Sunshine Coast, Mackay, Cairns and Townsville are bearing the brunt of this hurt.
So are those living in the surrounding regional towns that need jobs in the professional, hospitality, manufacturing and service sectors found in regional capital cities.
The staggering disparity of outcomes for those living in big cities and the regions means a piece meal approach to infrastructure delivery that usually increases around an election, and the economic policies that are either agriculture or big city centric will not work.
As Australia's economy continues to transition to high-value jobs of the future, regional capital cities need support to transition so they can ensure these jobs are available.
One-third of Australians rely on a regional capital city for their everyday needs, yet these cities continue to be under represented in policy and as a consequence remain vastly underfunded.
Our political leaders need long-term and forward-thinking planning to deliver powerful and innovative regional capital cities of the future.
Who will now step up to ensure regional Australia gets a fair go? Who will change the tide and commit to real change?
Mayor Shane Van Styn
Chair, Regional Capitals Australia
(Regional Capitals Australia is an alliance of local government councils binding together to build a nation of strong, sustainable and well-planned regional capitals and connected communities.)