LABOR'S freshly minted candidate for Rockhampton Barry O'Rourke was front and centre during yesterday's CQ visit from acting opposition leader Tanya Plibersek.
Ms Plibersek couldn't have timed her visit to the region better with Labor's preselection battle concluding on Friday night with Mr O'Rourke declared the winner over Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow before Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk declared a snap election on Sunday, to take place on November 25.
Flanked by Queensland Labor Senator Murray Watt, Ms Plibersek reflected on Labor's preselection stoush, saying "a bit of local democracy was a great thing” before throwing her support behind the new kid on the block Mr O'Rourke's and Keppel MP Brittany Lauga's election campaigns.
"I'm delighted to be campaigning with Barry, a strong local representative and I'm delighted to be here to support Brittany's campaign as well because she's made a huge impact in her time already,” Ms Plibersek said.
"I think the issues here will be as they are throughout Queensland - jobs - you've got Annastacia Palaszczuk's government that's created 122,500 jobs, contrast that to Campbell Newman and Tim Nicholls ripping 14,000 jobs out of Queensland the moment they had a chance.
"[Other issues are] services, health and education, you've got a government here who are employing teachers, employing doctors, nurses, teacher aides, police, people in frontline positions right through Queensland, that'll make a huge difference to the services people get in local communities.”
As shadow minister for education and training, Ms Plibersek stood with CQUniversity as a backdrop to take aim at the Federal Government's plans to slash spending for higher education.
"It is extraordinary that we have a Federal Government that is prepared to cut $400m from Queensland universities, including $30m from this university alone,” she said.
"It's not just university funding cuts, this region has lost more than 1400 apprentices and trainees because of decisions made by the Federal Government.”
She said government was all about making choices and that the federal LNP were making the wrong choices by cutting education funding at the same time as it was giving money away to multinationals and millionaires.
"At the same time Malcolm Turnbull's government are cutting funding for university and TAFE, they are actually prepared to give a $65b big business tax giveaway and a $19b tax giveaway to millionaires - it just shows how wrong their priorities are.”
Mr O'Rourke (pictured), the former public housing director, seized his first opportunity in the media spotlight to familiarises his electorate with the kind of man he was and what he stood for.
"I'm a people's person, I want to run with an open door policy and listen to the people,” Mr O'Rourke said.
"I think that's one of the issues we've seen in recent times, people don't feel like they're being listened to and heard and I think that really needs to be an area that we address.”
He said there were a lot of opportunities around to increase the workforce in CQ, particularly in Rockhampton.
"There was $200m that has been invested into CQ in this financial year and a further $200m for the extension of the Capricorn Correctional Centre.
He noted that businesses were picking up in the region as a result of mining industry and construction in the area.
In addition to visiting CQUniversity, Ms Plibersek also visited Mount Archer State School and was a guest speaker at a casual networking lunch and fund-raiser for Mrs Lauga's campaign.
Mrs Lauga, who had recently given birth to Odette, said she had some great family support to help her to meet the challenges of a tightly contested election campaign.
"I was elected in 2015 on the basis of not selling our electricity assets, growing jobs and restoring frontline services,” Mrs Lauga said.
"I'm confident based on my track record that I have been working hard every single day to deliver those promises for the people of my electorate.