Matt Canavan.
Matt Canavan. Chris Ison ROK210616croad2

Has PM undermined Rocky-based senator in his own backyard?

Prime Minister Malcolm Turbull opens Vanguard Laundry Services, Monday, January 16, 2017.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turbull opens Vanguard Laundry Services, Monday, January 16, 2017. Kevin Farmer

OPINION by Adam Wratten: Has Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull undermined Rockhampton-based Senator Matt Canavan in his own backyard?

The PM's announcement this week that there would be no forced land acquisitions, is at odds with what Mr Canavan told The Morning Bulletin last week.

On Thursday, the Minister for Northern Australia said the government would make the hard call if it had to and he cited the example of Cultana, South Australia, where this had been done.

READ: Senator justifies why Shoalwater expansion should happen.

I took his comments to mean that the government wasn't going to back down to public pressure...that it would make what it saw as the right decision, regardless of local public opinion.

Now this position has been dropped. It comes after days of mixed messages from the government.

Yesterday, Mr Canavan's office referred The Morning Bulletin's questions to Michelle Landry, the Member for Capricornia.

A post on Mr Canavan's Facebook page said that along with Ms Landry and Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd he'd lobbied to get the forced acquisitions off the table.

Mr Canavan has been the face of the government on the Shoalwater issue in a number of ways.

Along with Mr O'Dowd, he represented the government at a public meeting early in the year.

He is also clearly one of the government's best up-and-coming operators and we are lucky to have him based in our region. Political insiders regularly tell me he will one day serve in a higher office.

While I'm glad to see the PM backed down on compulsory land acquisitions, I wonder why it took so long to listen to his local representatives?

READ: PM says no forced Shoalwater acqusitions.

Clearly, as we have been told, conversations were happening behind the scene, yet it took some time before the U-turn was announced.

Our region's ALP representatives quickly saw the damage the poor handling of the issue was causing the government. Labor applied plenty of political pressure. Within a few days we had Opposition leader Bill Shorten and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in the region.

Queensland LNP leader Tim Nicholls also publicly aired his concerns.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meets this morning with Michelle Landry MP (Capricornia), Ken O’Dowd (Flynn) and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Defence Minister Marise Payne. No landholder in the Shoalwater Bay district will be forced to sell their property to Defence.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meets this morning with Michelle Landry MP (Capricornia), Ken O’Dowd (Flynn) and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Defence Minister Marise Payne. No landholder in the Shoalwater Bay district will be forced to sell their property to Defence.

Mr Turnbull has a lot on his plate at the moment, but the delay in listening to his people on the ground here in CQ has hurt the government in these parts.

Capricornia is one of the most marginal seats in the country and there's no doubt the government will have taken a big hit from this saga.



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