Strelow unleashes on Labor's 'breadcrumbs' for Rocky plan
FRESHLY minted Independent candidate for the state election Margaret Strelow hasn't minced words today rubbishing the Palaszczuk Government's plan to invest $10m into a manufacturing hub in Rockhampton.
Labor's proposed $30 million initiative, which would also see hubs established in Cairns and Townsville, was touted by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday to create jobs and build and promote manufacturing expertise.
"My Government has strongly supported industry and jobs in Rockhampton, and in the wake of the decision by Aurizon to close workshops there, we are committing to establishing a dedicated manufacturing hub,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
Freed from the shackles of toeing the party line, former Rockhampton Mayor Ms Strelow pointed to the soon-to-be abandoned Aurizon Railway Workshops saying it needed $100m to bring this facility up to date so that it could compete with the overseas manufacturers.
"I know these workshops, I've walked through them, I've had the blokes talk to me and tell me about the lack of investment year after year.
"I've been told that the Chinese manufactured product was cheaper and why wouldn't it be, there's been investment in manufacturing in China.
"I know that there are incentives on the table if someone wants to open manufacturing in Gladstone, nothing on the table for us, we don't have a state development area.”
Ms Strelow described Labor's plan as "breadcrumbs for Rockhampton” that was a "really poor substitute” as significant funding for the CQ region was overlooked in favour of the south east's $5.4b Cross River Rail project.
"A $10 million dollar manufacturing hub, I'm not even sure what that means, it's not jobs, it's training and wishful thinking,” Ms Strelow said.
"And $10 million won't go very far given there's a new building to be built. Another sad story of under delivery and under commitment to Rockhampton .
"This $10 million titbit won't appease the hundreds of workers who have been made redundant by Aurizon over the past few years.”
She said it was time for Brisbane to get serious about its commitment to Rockhampton and not throw a few crumbs back when a regional city has been brought to its knees.
"$10 million for some kind of jobs centre doesn't make up for the damage that was done only a few short years ago by a previous Labor government when our railway was sold off to fund the 'not so Great' South-east,” Ms Strelow said.
"We have much longer memories than they think.”
"Sorry Brisbane, you're just not getting it.”
Rockhampton candidate Barry O'Rourke said he was bitterly disappointed that Margaret Strelow wasn't supporting a program that promises to bring manufacturing and much needed jobs to Rockhampton.
"The industry hub will bring together experts from Industry, Academia and Government to cut red tape, offer advice on Industry start-ups and business expansion all in a one stop shop,” Mr O'Rourke said.
"Anyone wanting to bring industry to Rockhampton, or start an Industry in Rockhampton will have all the help they need at their fingertips.
"The Industry hub will also play an important marketing role, identifying and attracting Industry to Rockhampton.”
Mr O'Rourke said Ms Strelow needed to think outside of the square and focus more on innovation.
"Businesses accessing the hub will also have access to our supporting programs including Back to Work, our $130 million Jobs and Regional Growth Fund, as well as $40 million in Made in Queensland grants,” he said.
"Is Margaret Strelow seriously proposing the Government fund a third meat works in Rockhampton to compete with Teys and JBS? How many jobs would she destroy at those existing businesses?”
"Her Proposal to give Aurizon $100 million is extraordinary given this highly profitable company's decision to abandon Rockhampton.”
Keppel MP Brittany Lauga was shocked to hear Margaret Strelow "rubbish a solid $10 million commitment by the Palaszczuk Government to secure the future of the manufacturing industry in our region and the jobs it will support”.
"Her suggestion that taxpayers should provide a $100 million handout to Aurizon is insulting to the families of workers who are being treated atrociously by that company,” she said.
"I understand that she is desperately trying to appear relevant to the debate, but making outrageous and unrealistic statements to grab a headline do not help her credibility.”
Instead of $10m for a Rockhampton manufacturing hub, Ms Strelow believed that the region could benefit from:
- $100 million to transform the Aurizon workshops so they can compete with overseas manufacturers.
- $100 million to set-aside land and incentives to attract new manufacturing businesses to Gracemere.
- $100 million to build a new meat works to suit the Chinese market and develop new jobs in Rockhampton that might be acceptable.