Beattie backs a winner with us

PREMIER Peter Beattie, like us, obviously loves Rockhampton.

Why else would he choose our city as the alternative capital?

That's what Rockhampton will become for the next three days as it transforms into the seat of Queensland's government.

As all 89 Members take their seats in the make-shift parliamentary chamber established on the stage of the Pilbeam Theatre. It will be only the second time Parliament has sat outside Brisbane.

Mr Beattie was yesterday confident he'd made the right decision in choosing Rockhampton over other regional centres such as Cairns, Mackay or Toowoomba.

"Rocky is a regional hub; it feeds into Yeppoon, it feeds into Gladstone and people from across Central Queensland can come in to watch it (Parliament),'' he said.

Member for Rockhampton Robert Schwarten agreed, saying he had little difficulty convincing Mr Beattie to bring Parliament here.

"Rockhampton is a major commercial centre of Queensland, we've got the coal industry, we've got the cattle industry and we've got a large university based here,'' he said.

"This week Rocky residents will have the opportunity to do something no generation before them has done; see Parliament in action in their own city.''

Mr Beattie defended the sitting's $430,000 price tag, saying it was worth every penny.

"There are a lot of old sticks-inthe-mud who don't like what we're doing but I'm happy to stand by the decision,'' he said.

He said it was time all Members of Parliament realised Queensland extended beyond the south-east corner.

"You've got some who think Queensland ends at the Noosa River. Regional Queensland is the strength of Queensland's economy.''

And while the sitting has already brought with it funding announcements for the beef industry, it appears Central Queenslanders can look forward to other windfalls over the next three days.

Health Minister Stephen Robertson yesterday hinted at an announcement regarding Yeppoon Hospital.

"All I can say is watch this space,'' he said.

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