THE man who would be Premier says Gympie and Maryborough are probably Queensland’s most neglected regions – but not for long, if he has his way.
Campbell Newman made a policy-packed visit to Gympie on Thursday, promising a 10-year program to flood-proof and upgrade the Bruce Hwy from Brisbane to Cairns.
He said it was unacceptable that the state’s main artery was so dangerous and unreliable.
In Gympie’s Memorial Lane, the ex-Brisbane Lord Mayor and LNP leader in waiting talked Anzac Day with RSL Sub-Branch president Ivan Friske and regional renewal with battling mum Lisa Barnacle.
“Gympie needs help,” she said. “The roads are crumbling and it’s hard to even walk on them.”
In Mary St he brushed off an argument that it was undemocratic of him to run for elected political leadership when he is not yet a Member of Parliament, saying there was nothing undemocratic about offering an alternative.
Interrupted only by well-wishers, he was kept busy shaking hands and chatting to shoppers, taking time also to promise more needs-based funding for government services and more decentralised decision making for government agencies.
He told Queensland Teachers Union official Alota Lima of his plans to reverse Labor centralism, before telling business and community leaders, at an RSL Club luncheon, of his plans to return freedom to free enterprise and authority to local authorities.
LABOR’S “extreme green” political allies and zealots in “my favourite department, DERM” were out to make life impossible for the four-wheel drivers and family campers who keep the Cooloola Coast afloat, Campbell Newman said on Thursday.
He said this reflected a general government attitude which had tied business up in red tape and crushed the farming community.
Introducing Mr Campbell at a business and community luncheon at Gympie RSL Club, MP David Gibson said it was no secret Gympie was going through tough times – “and it’s not just the floods”.
He described the asset sell-off, which particularly impacted government forestry assets, as “an incredibly short-sighted decision”.
When Mr Campbell was asked to assure attendees that he would not ever re-introduce the Traveston Crossing dam proposal, Mr Gibson interjected: “He won’t if he still wants me to be hanging around.
“Campbell Newman will not only hold Labor to account for broken promises and criminal waste on projects that deliver very little,” Mr Gibson said his ability to deliver was shown by his experience running the Brisbane City Council.
Access to health care was another issue which Mr Gibson promised to bring to the attention of a Campbell Newman government.
Mr Newman said he had been Lord Mayor of Brisbane for seven years and leader of the City Council Opposition for two years before that.
That was when he made his big confession.
“I can honestly assure you all that I never intended to do this. It would have been too easy to do another four years as Lord Mayor and I could see myself sailing off into the sunset from there.”
Another person who planned things that way was his wife.
“So could Lisa Newman,” he said.
But he told about 80 business, community and political guests at the luncheon that he could not tolerate the Bligh Government and its “lies, the dishonesty and spin and the failure to deliver for Queensland.
“I could not stomach it,” he said.
Mr Campbell, an engineer in civilian and military life, said he had been in business for 10 years and at one point had overseen the administration of grain deliveries from Queensland regions to ports, giving him an understanding of regional needs.
“I know where Queensland’s wealth is generated,” he said.
He said he had run for the Brisbane Lord Mayoralty mainly because his predecessor Jim Soorley was not doing anything about traffic congestion in Brisbane.
“Now we need to do something about Queensland,” he said.
“The state of the economy – Queensland is rated at the bottom.
“I’m from Tasmania, but it is a small state and it should not be above Queensland.
“Yet it is (according to the Commonwealth Bank agency Comsec) and so is South Australia.
“We want Queensland at the top of that list. We want jobs – not government make-work jobs, but real jobs.
“Agribusiness has to be energised and supported, energy and resource projects have to be fast-tracked.
“That will supercharge the Queensland economy and from there we can repair the state’s finances,” he said.
“The font of all knowledge is not in Canberra or Brisbane.”
The shifting of the Main Roads Department office to Maroochydore was one example of the centralisation he would reverse.