SUBJECTS: Rockhampton ring road, Scott Morrison’s Queensland tour, infrastructure projects in Central Queensland.
RUSSELL ROBERTSON, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR CAPRICORNIA: Welcome here today and thanks for coming along. I have with me the Labor candidate for Flynn, Zac Beers and the Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon - and Joel has dropped through to say G’day on his way through to a tour out to the west. What we are also witnessing here today is the PM in town following Labor’s lead by announcing he is going to fund a ring road that we have been announcing and been chasing since 2010. We have dragged the LNP kicking and screaming to this infrastructure project so it’s good to see them finally come on board and understand the needs of regional Queensland. I just wanted to touch on the fact we have a great Shadow here who is looking after the regions and is not going to just fly in and fly out. I’m going to throw to Joel to just touch on some of the things he is doing today.
JOEL FITZGIBBON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FORESTRY AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR RURAL AND REGIONAL AUSTRALIA: Thanks Robbo. Good morning, it’s great to be back in Central Queensland with Russell Robertson our candidate in Capricornia and Zac Beers our candidate in Flynn. I look forward to going further west today to talk to more producers and growers about how a Labor government will work with them to lift their sustainable profitability and of course tackle the challenges of a challenging climate and an ongoing drought. If the Prime Minister does board the ‘cuts bus’ between Rockhampton and Gladstone today it will be the closest he gets to regional Queensland. His whistle stop tour has been to the regional cities only. They are of course very important, but this is a Prime Minister who said he would make our growers and producers a priority and he would be out there talking to them about the dry and hot conditions they face but it seems all he is doing is fundraising in each of the regional cities. I will be out there talking to growers and producers today freely, whereas Scott Morrison will be in the towns expecting growers and producers to come to him but they will only have the opportunity to speak to him if they are prepared to make substantial financial contributions. Contrast that with what Bill Shorten has been doing, holding town hall meetings here in Central Queensland and right throughout the country. In fact he will be holding one in Perth this evening. Growers and producers and people generally in Central Queensland shouldn’t have to pay for the right to talk to their Prime Minister about the challenges they face or indeed the opportunities in their communities. I join Robbo in welcoming the Prime Minister’s late commitment to the ring road, a commitment the Labor Party under Bill Shorten made some time ago and hopefully this will ensure Rockhampton receives that ring road and all the benefits which flow from it.
JOURNALIST: Just confirming there were no costs to go for any of the Bill Shorten forums in these towns?
FITZGIBBON: Absolutely. Bill has been holding town hall meetings right around the country and of course engaging elsewhere with members of the community and business leaders. We don’t believe the community should have to pay for the right to make contact and engage with their political leaders. We know now what this bus tour is all about, it’s about putting money into the coffers of the LNP in a desperate attempt to play catch up in Queensland. Scott Morrison is rarely seen in Queensland. It was a surprise to all of us that he is spending four days here but we now know it’s mainly about fundraising for the coming election campaign. Zac did you want to say something?
ZAC BEERS, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR FLYNN: It’s great to be here today with Joel and Robbo in Rockhampton. Obviously we have seen an announcement from the Prime Minister today about the ring road in Rockhampton. It’s great to see he has finally backed in Labor’s commitment to Central Queensland and he has backed in Labor’s announcement to fund the ring road here. Today he is going to be visiting Gladstone and it is disappointing to see his priority while in Gladstone is to take more money out of our community in the form of a fundraiser. We are hoping to see a commitment today from Scott Morrison to the Port Access road and other infrastructure in Gladstone and a commitment to deliver an MRI licence for the Gladstone community, an announcement that Labor has made recently and an announcement Scott Morrison needs to back in and commit. It’s not good enough people of Gladstone and the people of Central Queensland have been treated like second class citizens by this Government and this Prime Minister, at a time when we desperately need investment in infrastructure, Gladstone and Flynn have been left out yet again. Today we are calling on the Prime Minister to back in our commitments, to back in our projects and make sure Gladstone and Central Queensland vital fun ding for infrastructure to create the jobs our regions desperately needs.
FITZGIBBON: Any questions?
JOURNALIST: Maybe one for Russell. Are you buying that this trip up the coast isn’t an election campaign?
ROBERTSON: It’s pretty clear that you have an ad man who doesn’t really know how to talk to the people and doesn’t know what we need in regional Queensland and as we have said, he needs to get on board. The Labor Party are leading the way here with infrastructure. We are looking after the regions so stop trying to scull a beer, stop trying to wear some crazy hats. Start backing the regions.
JOURNALIST: When was he trying to scull a beer?
ROBERTSON: So we have seen him at the cricket trying to sculls beers and put glasses on his head. We want a real leader and want someone who has a vision for our country and is going to put a bit of fairness back in. I hear on the doors every day how a low wage growth and a lack of investment in the region is what is holding us back. The Labor Party is committed as we had said with the ring road. We have had to drag the LNP kicking and screaming to give these projects. We are leading, they are following.
JOURNALIST: Are you still going to keep pushing for federal funding for Great Keppel Island?
ROBERTSON: Absolutely. As a good local member, what you need to do is go down to Canberra and fight for your local projects. That’s what I have done, as a candidate. So if you don’t get in there and fight then you don’t get the infrastructure projects and funding for your local region and we are seeing that. We have got someone who doesn’t fight for the region and that’s not what I’m not going to do.
JOURNALIST: What are some of the major things you think Scott Morrison should be touching on?
ROBERTSON: The flood levee. Stop putting tricky little rises in it and try get out of funding. We have seen the ring road with a little requirement on the state to do something. The Rookwood Weir is the same. Come on, back it in and stand behind these projects which will really, really benefit our community and stop trying to get out of it and pay lip service to Central Queensland.
FITZGIBBON: Thanks every one.