Llew O'Brien wants to bring manufacturing back to Gympie in the wake of COVID-19.
Llew O'Brien wants to bring manufacturing back to Gympie in the wake of COVID-19.

Gympie’s most powerful man reveals his vision for the region

WHEN it comes to the future of the Gympie region, Wide Bay Federal MP Llew O’Brien wants to manufacture its success – literally.

The return of industry to the region is one of several goals the man crowned as Gympie’s most powerful and influential person of 2020 has in his sights to ensure the region’s success.

“My vision for the future is making sure the Wide Bay is getting its fair share for climbing out of the mess COVID has made,” Mr O’Brien said.

A big piece of this was by “trying to diversify as much as we can in terms of agriculture and manufacturing”.

Mr O’Brien says the region is well placed to capitalise on some of the changes coming after the pandemic.
Mr O’Brien says the region is well placed to capitalise on some of the changes coming after the pandemic.

One area in his sights was medical manufacturing, expected to be a boon industry as the aftermath of COVID lingers.

“(Gympie) is perfectly placed to set up manufacturing of that kind,” Mr O’Brien said.

And bringing manufacturing back to Australia’s shores would also increase its resilience.

Another spot Gympie was in a good position to capitalise on was the fight for lower energy costs, of which Mr O’Brien said the country had to find a way to deliver.

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He said he would “absolutely” back clean coal-fired power as it would allow Australia to take advantage of its own minerals currently being exported overseas.

He supported renewable energy projects too so long as they “don’t require subsidies”, one of the key reasons he said people were now paying so much for electricity.

The Bruce Highway north of Gympie continues to be a key part of Mr O’Brien’s vision.
The Bruce Highway north of Gympie continues to be a key part of Mr O’Brien’s vision.

“Mum’s and dads are paying some of the highest energy costs and it’s going to sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East,” he said.

“If renewable can stand on its own two feet then so be it.

“But if we’re going to up the cost … without getting any of the climate benefits (with the US pulling out of climate agreements and China’s large contributions)?”

And although a large part of his initial vision is now on its way to reality with the Gympie Bypass under construction, his vision for the highway has not changed.

It has merely moved 25km north to Curra.

“The Bruce Highway going north is not fit for purpose,” Mr O’Brien said.

Construction has started on the Gympie Bypass, a key piece of what Mr O’Brien pushed for in previous years.
Construction has started on the Gympie Bypass, a key piece of what Mr O’Brien pushed for in previous years.

He said the area around Tiaro, where a two-lane bypass is proposed, carried as much or more traffic than other four lane stretches of highway across Australia and deserved to be built to the same standard.

And responsibility for this sat at the feet of both State and Federal MPs.

“It’s my job to call bull---- on that (about Tiaro)” he said.

“We need a proper plan.”

Delivering a four lane Tiaro bypass would in fact encourage the end of the “piecemeal” planning for the highway.

Of course, Gympie needed to be ready for when the Bypass opened, too.

“That’s something we all need to look towards,” he said.