Independent candidate for Flynn Murray Peterson.
Independent candidate for Flynn Murray Peterson. Tegan Annett

20+ QUESTIONS: How Murray Peterson responded

Name: Murray Peterson

Age: 59

Suburb: Kin Kora

What is your professional background?

Engineering research (testing and developing materials and designs), consulting engineer (safety investigations, design of buildings, bridges, port and industrial structures) and registered secondary teacher (maths, science and technology).

I'm also a member of Recreational Aviation Australia, Volunteer Marine Rescue and Cherish Life Gladstone branch.

What do you think are the biggest issues facing the region?

Governments, remote from our region, making decisions that are not in our interest. They are often ignorant, ill-informed or often indifferent. Many decision makers in government have accounting backgrounds but little understanding of the actual things they are deciding.

And, what would you do to address these issues?

Members of parliament who don't care what the people think, they just represent the party, don't help. I am not controlled by a political party and I have the technical background to make rational decisions.

What made you interested in politics?

I am concerned about our increasing loss of freedom of speech. Political correctness is another term for incorrectness or suppressing people. People need the right to express their opinions and beliefs without fear. Too often politicians and public servants make poor decisions and bad choices that affect us. Too many career politicians choose to please their party instead of the people.

What makes you the right candidate for the region?

I have worked as an engineer for 17 years and understand the region's infrastructure needs. I have also worked as a teacher for eight years in schools including at Capella, Dysart and currently Gladstone. I am not chained to a political party so I am free to represent the best interests of the people of Flynn and I have the technical knowledge to make informed decisions.

What should be done to ensure Queensland has reliable, affordable electricity?

In the short term maintaining our existing coal fired power stations will provide affordable, reliable power, keeping in mind that substantial emissions are produced to make the materials to build a power station. The highest maintenance part of a coal fired power station is the boilers. Replacing these with geothermal wells would be a good way of using the existing power station to produce electricity while eliminating the fuel cost and emissions.

What do you think Canberra doesn't understand about the Flynn electorate?

Many politicians in Canberra have little or no understanding of regional Australia. Therefore, they take too much tax from farmers during a good season, not understanding that this results in farmers struggling financially when there is a bad season. They take the same approach to industry, showing little understanding that commodity prices rise and fall. Government needs to reduce income tax and rely more on indirect tax to avoid creating this problem.

Do you think Adani's Carmichael Mine should go ahead?

Adani uses the coal to generate electricity in India so they will source the coal from some other country if the Carmichael Mine does not go ahead. Global Carbon dioxide emissions will not be reduced if this mine does not open. If all other environmental concerns (including not removing or polluting artesian water or surface rivers) are met, the mine should go ahead.

What will you do to create jobs for the region, with or without Adani's mine?

Reducing income tax will reduce pressure on wage increases which will lead to an increase in employment. When farmers and industry are less restricted by government they earn more which has a flow on effect for employment. There are several opportunities in industry such as making steel from iron oxide wastes, building aluminium ships near Boyne Island and clean energy production in which Gladstone has a natural advantage.

What will you do to make a strong economy within the region and the state?

The greatest impediment to a strong economy is high taxation. Reducing income tax will reduce pressure on wage increases which will lead to an increase in employment. Remember, a 33% income tax rate increases the cost of labour by 50%. This disadvantages Australians and Australian businesses. If governments collect tax when people spend money rather than when they earn money, locally produced goods will not be taxed more than imported goods as they currently are.

How can we increase tourism in the region?

Reduce per passenger fees at Gladstone and other airports so airlines can offer fares for less than $100 each way. Reduce fees that tourist operators now pay to enable them to be more competitive.

Open the International section of Rockhampton Airport to international public transport flights. Upgrade the Bruce Highway to benefit most people including tourists.

Support the Gladstone Ports Authority with the upgrading of the passenger ship facilities at East Shores.

Gladstone's resources sector provides a large amount of royalties to the state and federal governments. How will you ensure that money is returned to the region?

I will be doing my best for our region. More than 60% of Queensland's income is earned in regional Queensland but more than 80% of the Queensland budget is spent in Brisbane. I will pressure the State Government to behave more fairly. For example, the Bruce Highway should be a dual lane divided road from near Nambour (where this currently ends) to Cairns.

What should be done to address climate change, and protect the Great Barrier Reef?

There are numerous ideas about climate change and many of them do not have a sound scientific basis. Never the less, the best approach to pollution is to minimise it or eliminate it responsibly, without adversely affecting people's livelihoods. Converting existing coal fired power stations such as NRG to geothermal power will eliminate fuel costs and emissions while maintaining or improving reliability. Minimising or eliminating water pollutants is also necessary to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

Will emissions reduction targets affect the long-term viability of BSL and other energy-intensive businesses within the region? Why/Why not?

All businesses can be adversely affected by poorly timed government decisions. Change that is adopted by businesses because it is better technology will always be a better outcome. Imposing change using financial penalties can be very destructive to businesses, the employment they provide and community they are in. Converting power stations to geothermal power can eliminate fuel costs and emissions but there needs to be a continuous supply of affordable power until then.

The Observer's recent FutureCQ event revealed community leaders want to see investment to create better sporting facilities. What would you do to facilitate this?

Investment in sporting facilities should initially be encouraged from industry. For the Australian government to be involved it should be a process open to all interested parties and it should be considered how multiple sports could share multi-purpose facilities, taking into account the number of interested people to get best community benefit for the money.

Demographer Bernard Salt's analysis of ABS population data found an increase in youth leaving the region. What can the Federal Government do to encourage youth to stay, or encourage others to move to the Gladstone region?

Adequate employment and training in Flynn would address some of this.

Waiving HECS debt for university graduates that live and work more than 250 km from a capital city for at least five years would also be a way of encouraging university graduates to regional areas.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Department of the Environment and Energy or Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development could be in Gladstone providing employment.

Mr Salt's analysis also found there will be an increase in seniors living in Gladstone. What can the Federal Government do to ensure Gladstone has the facilities an ageing population requires?

The Australian Government should encourage Gladstone Regional Council to reduce Council rates on homes to help many pensioners or self-funded retirees. Priorities should be enabling an aging population to safely live in their own home, followed by helping them live with and be cared for by a son of daughter or other close relative. If they have no willing family carers then the government should be providing other facilities.

What will you do to provide the region with more health services?

  • Upgrade Gladstone Base Hospital to the same standard as Rockhampton and fund free transport to other hospitals if necessary.
  • Re-open rural birthing centres closed by Labor
  • Oppose Labor's plan to force public hospitals (doctors and nurses) to perform abortions on healthy viable babies (late and full term) paid for by tax payers money
  • Fund alternative ways to treat cancer patients, such as Radio-wave therapy (Dr John Holt).

What do you plan to do about the ice problem in Central Queensland?

Educate more people about the tragic consequences of using ice. Increase funding for Christian chaplains in schools and fund prevention of substance abuse programs. Increase youth employment by reducing income tax for businesses who employ youth. Provide adequate resources for police and customs. Phase out the prescription of Ritalin (Methylphenidate) to treat ADHD in children and develop better alternatives. Address issues relating to cultural acceptance of ice.

What should be done to make regional airfares more affordable, and to encourage airlines to add new flight routes to regional airports?

Reduce Airport fees. For example Gladstone Airport charges airlines $27.50 per passenger, Brisbane charges $21.50 making every fare $49.00 more. Airlines can move people further, faster and cheaper if they are not excessively taxed. If taxes are reduced, airlines can offer cheaper fares, resulting in more people using the airlines and then the fares could be reduced even more. The more people travel by plane, the more services can be offered.

What is the most common misconception about you?

The most common misconception is that voting 1 for an independent is a wasted vote if I don't get elected. Australia's voting system is one of the best. You just list the candidates in the order your prefer and the system will accurately include your choices. If you vote 7 LNP and 8 Labor and all other candidates have less votes, you are still casting a full vote for LNP. The same is true the other way around.

Do you support the construction of a new coal-fired power station in CQ? Why?

I support a new power station but coal is not the best option.

Geothermal requires no fuel and has no emissions using similar turbines and generators to coal fired power stations - reliable, 24/7 technology.

Solar makes a good contribution in the daytime. I don't support Nuclear fission - governments don't always behave responsibly, fuels and products are very toxic. Nuclear fusion with nontoxic fuels and products is worth developing.

How would you make housing more accessible for first home buyers?

Government taxes and charges, both initial and ongoing, should be reduced, such as Queensland Government Stamp Duty, which is the most costly initial tax. Substantial development and building application fees imposed by local governments on those building new homes should also be reduced as well as council rates which adversely affect both home owners and tenants. Gladstone rates are approximately $60 per week which is a huge burden on residents.

How would you tackle high fuel prices in CQ?

The cost of production of ethanol as a fuel can be reduced by encouraging this research and development. Stop the indexing of the fuel excise (It is at 41.6 c/l now!). Excise on renewable fuels, ethanol and biodiesel, should be removed. Fuel mixtures like E10 should only pay excise on its petrol component. Encourage the research and development of pyrolysis derived biofuels and waste to fuel processes.

How could we better utilise public transport in CQ?

Regular passenger trains to coal mines from Gladstone would be a better option for drive in drive out miners. Long distance trains could be priced more competitively to increase usage. Running times of trains should be more favourable to Gladstone. Public transport on land within cities such as Gladstone and Rockhampton is based on buses and we don't have the population density to justify higher capacity systems.

What should we do to support scientific research and increase innovation?

Government needs to change its attitude toward innovation. Many government departments such as Queensland Transport and Main Roads actively oppose innovation. As a consulting engineer designing road bridges, I have had improved designs rejected because the public servant did not understand it. I have designed a bridge that does not develop bumps at the beginning and end yet I have had the same idea rejected in a later bridge.

Do you support shifting a government department or military base to CQ? How would you make it happen?

Government departments such as the Department of the Environment and Energy, Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development or even the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources could be in Gladstone providing employment and helping departmental staff be more connected the practical application of the department. With its proximity to the Shoal Water Bay Training Area a Royal Australian Navy base in Gladstone Harbour would be of benefit.

What plans do you have to better support small business?

Simplifying government requirements on business is step one. Raising the tax free threshold so lower wage earners are much simpler to employ. Simplify or eliminate tax reporting requirements. Reducing or eliminating government "paperwork" requirements so businesses can run efficiently rather that putting resources into entertaining government officials. Government should use the products services of businesses in regional Australia for regional Australians instead of favouring businesses based in capital cities.

What is your approach towards taxation? Where would you cut or impose taxes?

Government needs to collect taxes in order to pay for what it does, but the process needs to be as cost effective as possible so we don't have to pay too much. The least cost effective tax is income tax so this should be phased out in favour of indirect tax such as GST. This reduces everyone's tax by about $1000.00 per year, yet the government gets the same money.

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