FEDERAL ELECTION 2016: Five issues on Capricornia agenda

THE COUNTDOWN is on and the different policies and issues are being talked about ahead of the 2016 Federal Election.

The Bulletin has compiled a list of seven hot themes for this election for the Capricornia electorate and outlined what has been discussed so far:

Number 1 - Telecommunications/NBN

IT comes as no surprise that internet speeds and phone connectivities are a big issue for people living in Capricornia.

Even before Cyclone Marcia blew across the region, people commented on The Bulletin's Facebook posts about connectivity issues - in town and within 20 minutes drive of Rockhampton.

Just last month, the Australian Labor Party held a forum in the region to discuss the issues, particularly the National Broadband Network.

Shadow communications minister, Jason Clare said people had raised concerns about the Turnbull government's fibre to the node rollout, which has started in several Rockhampton suburbs.

"People are still waiting and when it does arrive it will be the second-rate copper version," he said.

Mr Clare said other regions in Australia with fibre to the node were experiencing slower speeds in the evenings as people got home from work and school.

Other telecommunications/NBN stories from recent months: 

NBN network continues to roll out in Livingstone Shire

Rural Press Club call for action against data drought

NBN work starts in more parts of Rockhampton

Malcolm Turnbull's NBN hit by delays, blown-out budget

Number 2 - Education

CAPRICORNIA ALP candidate Leisa Neaton said under a Labor Government, Capricornia schools could expect an additional $31 million in the 2018-19 financial year.

Across Queensland, Ms Neaton said Labor would invest a total of $725 million.

Ms Neaton said both private and public schools would receive funding, benefiting every student in Capricornia.

The funding can be used by schools to tailor specific learning programs, targeting areas where students are struggling or falling below benchmarks.

Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said the LNP Government was delivering $512 million to Capricornia schools between 2014 and 2017.

"We will build on that existing record base for federal funding from 2018, including an additional $908 million for Queensland schools which represents a 27.5% increase in funding," she said.

"Our growth means schools will be able to continue to support teachers and new or existing initiatives, such as specialist teachers or targeted intervention programs."

Recent stories on education:

Labor has pledged to fund Gonski

LISTEN: How will Capricornia schools be funded?

WATCH: Single mum makes a public challenge to Prime Minister

 

3. JOBS, JOBS, JOBS

With a number of redundancies and mine closures in Central Queensland in the past year, many Capricornia workers (or unemployed) will be wanting to know what each candidate and their political party proposes to do about creating more jobs in the region.

On May 12, Opposition leader Bill Shorten spoke exclusively to The Bulletin about a number of issues, including jobs:

"The biggest issue in my way of thinking in regional Queensland is jobs. We've seen a downturn in the mining boom," Mr Shorten said.

"You don't need to be a Rhodes Scholar to work out that when you see the 'for lease' signs in the high street of the small business, when you know that there's banks repossessing houses, it is doing it hard.

"So our approach on jobs is to make sure workers have the skills, the kids gets a quality education; that we swing back public TAFE and back that in; that we make it easier for people to be able to afford to go to university.

"In addition we're seriously looking at what we do about about infrastructure, blue collar jobs.

"I reckon one of the big confidence building, job building revolutions waiting to happen is to give women equal-treatment.

"A lot of the start-up businesses these days are started disproportionately by women. If mum has good parental leave that means they don't suffer the income swings and it means they can start thinking about not only looking after bub but also using that time to think up their new business ideas.

"I think also, with all of our science courses and engineering courses, half of the new positions we're going to support and fund are going to go to women. Women are a bit of an un-tapped success story for Central Queensland."

Meanwhile, Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said the yet to be announced Bowen Basin Regional Innovation and Investment fund would target those looking to retrain from the mining sector and councils keen to build "job-creating infrastructure".

It's expected the assistance package will set aside $100 million.

"They're trying to find ways we can create more jobs and that we can get some of these miners back into the workforce," Ms Landry said.

"That would also go to grants to local councils for job-creating infrastructure projects like bridges and roads.

"I just think it' something that would be good to see.

"We've probably lost about 12,000 jobs in the mining sector over the last three or four years and we really need some help to get people back into employment."

It's understood the electorates of Capricornia, Herbert, Dawson, Flynn and parts of Kennedy would be included in the fund.

Recent stories about political parties policies on jobs: 

Read Labor's policy to kickstart new business

LISTEN: LNP's $100m jobs boost for Central Queensland

WATCH: $1 billion upgrade for Shoalwater Bay training centre

 

4. HEALTH

BOTH LNP and ALP want to see more money spent on health in Central Queensland.

"We've got a fantastic cancer centre up at the Rockhampton Hospital," ALP candidate Leisa Neaton said. "I'm going to be advocating for more medical equipment so we can centralise more of that medical support in Rockhampton."

Ms Neaton said she wanted to see services in Rockhampton that could save people in rural areas from travelling to Brisbane for treatment.

Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said she also supported health investment, including the push for $2 million cancer detection equipment at the Rockhampton Hospital as well as a car park.

 

Recent stories on this issue: 

WATCH: Campaign kicks off with all eyes on Capricornia

Rocky region demands a Fair Go for health services

Survey reveals Rockhampton region's sore spots

First radiation oncology patients to benefit from equipment

5. WATER

FROM the farmers to the mines, to towns and coastal communities; water is a hot topic at all levels of government and communities.

The drought has  had a long-term impact of Queensland farmers with many walking off the land with no money, no stock, no anything.

Then there have been concerns over the mining industry's impact on the quality of water in Central Queensland.

And then there are the proposals to increase the heights of the Eden Bann and Rookwood Weirs and turn the region into an agriculture hub.

Work could start on Rookwood and Eden Bann weirs within two years if all of the ducks were to fall into line, Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said.

A report in yesterday's Morning Bulletin inaccurately said it would take up to 10 years before work would get underway on key water infrastructure projects on the Fitzroy River.

Ms Landry said she was referring to the proposed Gap dam in relation to this timeframe.

She said if all the necessary approvals were put in place, and funding obtained, work could get underway on the weirs within two years.

Recent stories on this issue:

Budget puts billions up for grabs for regional dam building

VIDEO: Why is the Prime Minister talking about Rookwood?

Eden Bann Weir raising listed as a preferred option by CSIRO

Proposed weirs to be the damnation of the Fitzroy River?