O'Rourke calls on State to fix its Adani message
BARRY O'Rourke looked like a man who just watched a train wreck unfold and was kicking himself for not shouting out a warning sooner.
The first-term Member for Rockhampton was frustrated and even angry yesterday morning as he looked across the carnage of the weekend Federal election result and the poor results for the ALP in Capricornia (10.7 percent swing against) and CQ.
Much of his venom was directed at people voting for One Nation despite it not supporting a number of Labor backed CQ projects including the $1 billion Rockhampton road but he was also upset with the failure of the State Government hierarchy to limit the damage of the Adani-mine controversy.
He had lost patience last week as the anti-Labor backlash became apparent leading up to Saturday's results and voiced his opinion with the Premier in a Labor Caucus meeting in Brisbane on Friday.
"I've been out there talking to people for a number of months and listening to their (Adani) concerns. This stuff that was brought up in Caucus last week and that wasn't the first time. I felt regional Queensland had been dismissed on this (issue)," he said during an interview in the Rockhampton CBD.
"We have made a major error in the communication of Adani, we need to regroup on that, no question. There will be further discussions on that in the near future. We have to get it right.
"I don't sit at the Cabinet table but I will fight for the people of CQ.
When asked what the message should have been Mr O'Rourke said "it (the message) should have been, 'Adani is already approved subject to these conditions'. That's what the case is. It was approved two years ago but this has been twisted in the media."
"I support the project. I want to see the jobs, let's be clear on that. There is the finches (The Black Throated Finch Review) but it's the underground water supply that concerns me. It's the big one. This mine is opening up the Galilee Basin and the primary producers have concerns there and we have to get that right."
"This isn't about shutting down coal mines. It's about making sure that the primary producers out there still have the underground water supply. We need to have that balance. But the Labor Government's communication strategy was flawed on that message. It didn't work."
He rejected the accusation that the environmental bar had been set higher for Adani.
"I don't think that's the case. Adani has not been set a higher standard. We have approved so many other mines that have been approved by the (DES) experts."
"Where did we put the Greens on the how to vote cards? Last."
He understands that Adani held productive meetings last week with Department of Environment and Science officers.
As Member for Rockhampton he was very disappointed about the jobs that had been missed due to Labor's loss.
He said the LNP had certainly matched a number of Labor's election commitments that would benefit Rockhampton including Yeppoon Road and Stanage Bay Road upgrades but he claimed the Labor defeat meant the jobs that would have come with Labor pledges for the $8m Rockhampton Hospital upgrade and an $11m cardiac ward, the Lawrie St duplication for the Capricorn Highway extension and the $25m to help the state deliver mainland water and power to Great Keppel Island would not happen.
He blamed the loss of vote to One Nation and the flow of preferences to the LNP for contributing to the loss for Labor's Russell Robertson.
"I'm just so angry about that," he said.