GYMPIE TESTIMONIAL: Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Wide Bay candidate Llew OBrien and former Wide Bay MP Warren Truss.
GYMPIE TESTIMONIAL: Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Wide Bay candidate Llew OBrien and former Wide Bay MP Warren Truss. David Crossley

National Party faithful converge on Gympie Golf Club

THE party faithful filled Gympie Pines Golf Club on Wednesday night for a testimonial dinner to honour former member for Wide Bay Warren Truss.

Deputy Prime Minister and National Party leader Barnaby Joyce was joined by Senator James McGrath, new LNP Wide Bay candidate Llew O’Brien, other party heavyweights and about 100 members of the community for the event, which followed the official opening of Mr O’Brien’s campaign office in Gympie earlier that day.

Before announcing his retirement earlier this year, Mr Truss had held the seat of Wide Bay since 1990.

It was apparent at the dinner that the legacy he has left on the region did not gone unnoticed.

“The single factor that led me most to be involved in politics was the election of Gough Whitlam,” Mr Truss said as he addressed the crowd.

“But it sure wasn’t the Labor Party.

“Many people joined the Labor Party but also many people joined the Nationals and the Liberal Party in that era because we were so outraged by what he did after the security of years of solid and conservative and strong government – they were outraged at the sort of policies he chose to introduce.”

During his career, Mr Truss held portfolios in customs, agriculture and fishing, tourism and regional services, as well as being minister for infrastructure and the deputy prime minister.

“In the last few years the single thing that has mattered most to me particularly in my time as Minister for Transport was the $50 million roads program that Tony Abbott’s government implemented when we came to office and I was privileged to be the minister that had responsibility for that,” he said on Wednesday night.

“It is making a difference; not only are people having a more enjoyable experience on the road but the thing that really drove the Fix the Bruce campaign was the appalling road toll. The Bruce Hwy was averaging 55 casualties a year before this program started. It made it the most dangerous road in the whole of the national network.

“The road toll over the last few years has dropped from 55 down to 17. Now, that’s still too many but it does demonstrate that you can with a decent investment make a deal difference.”

Mr O’Brien spoke about his experiences with Mr Truss and on himself as a candidate.

“I know as a policeman in Kilkivan it was not unusual when he was deputy prime minister to go down to the News and Takeaway to get a drink and here was the deputy prime minister sitting there having a sandwich and talking to some of the locals and I think that is certainly why Warren was a member for 26-27 years. Because he has a deep connection with his constituents and certainly a deep connection with rural and regional Australia,” he said.

“So, Warren Truss is certainly a hard act to follow but I am very keen and very enthusiastic about taking that challenge on and one of the main reasons for that is that I know that I have both Warren and Lyn Truss in my corner while I take on that challenge.”

Mr Truss praised Mr O’Brien.

“Everywhere he (Llew O’Brien) goes he is well received, a decent fellow, understands the tough things in life and builds on the opportunities that are available. I’m sure Llew and Sharon will be a wonderful team for the people of Wide Bay in the years ahead.

“We move on to whatever the future may hold. We haven’t got too many plans other than making sure we win this election.

“Thank you for everything that you have done for me and for Lyn.

“Overwhelmingly we have enjoyed and regarded it as an enormous privilege to have served the people of this area for 26 years – 40 years in public life.

“Thank you for your support and we wish you good health and every happiness in the future.”