Meet Labor's new Rocky candidate
POLITICAL rookie Barry O'Rourke is humbled to be chosen as Labor's new candidate for the seat of Rockhampton spending his first jam-packed day in politics.
The father of two and former CQ public housing boss was yesterday announced over Rockhampton Region Mayor Margaret Strelow as Bill Byrne's successor to the throne of Labor's Rocky candidate.
The party, which has held the Rocky seat for decades, was forced to move quickly after Mr Byrne's shock resignation earlier this month due to health reasons.
Mr O'Rourke received a call from Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk this morning offering her congratulations to his 11 vote win.
A dedicated community man, Mr O'Rourke lived on the Capricorn Coast with his wife Sue-Ann and family before moving closer to his work in the homeless housing sector in Rocky 14 years ago.
With both sons, James and Harry, educated locally Mr O'Rourke said his involvement in various community and school activities grew his love for the Beef Capital.
"The Rocky community has a lot of people who are truly committed to their region and is home to genuinely true people,” he said.
"So my aim is to be a vital voice for those people.
"In my role as regional director for the Department of Housing, I know the importance of the Palaszczuk Government's $1.8b Housing Strategy to improve access to housing for Queensland families and youth.”
His dedication now lay in the improvement of the region, working alongside Mr Byrne and Cr Strelow who he says plays a dignified role of leadership for the city they love.
"The mayor will have no stronger partner than me to deliver South Rockhampton Flood Levee, which she has fought so hard for,” he said.
Mr O'Rouke acknowledged the significant role Bill Byrne has played in the region since 2012 saying his "tireless work and tenacity” had not been an oversight.
"Bill fought, with everything he had, against the severe cuts by Campbell Newman and Tim Nicholls to staff and services in Rockhampton,” he said.
"Thanks to Bill and the commitment of our Premier and Health Minister Cameron Dick, Labor has employed an extra 120 nurses, 47 doctors, 23 allied health professionals and a further 67 non-clinical staff for the CQ HHS.”
With an election date looming as close as this weekend, Mr O'Rourke says he was already enjoying the busy political lifestyle and was looking forward to what was to come.