YEAR IN REVIEW: O’Rourke’s reflections on 2020
MUCH like everyone else, the notorious year of 2020 will be an unforgettable one for Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke.
From the moment that 2020 clicked over on the calendar, much of the country was on fire and the parched Rockhampton region was no exception.
Mr O'Rourke threw his support behind the Morning Bulletin's 'Fair go for our fireys' campaign which ultimately resulted in the Federal Government announcing our heroic firefighting volunteers would be compensated for their protracted time away from work battling bushfires.
It was not long after the wet season quenched the bushfires that Mr O'Rourke and his government had to brace themselves for a once in a lifetime challenge - navigating the health and economic catastrophe created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Throughout the pandemic, Mr O'Rourke did his best to support the local community making thousands of calls to the region's older residents and visiting countless businesses to promote them on his social media as part of a Buy Local lead recovery.
Ultimately Queensland's hard line approach towards closing the borders and locking down communities won more supporters than detractors with Mr O'Rourke and his government returned to power in November's election.
Determined to ensure Central Queenslanders bounced back stronger than ever, Mr O'Rourke is ready to roll his sleeves up and get back to work delivering for Rockhampton during his government's first fixed four-year term of government.
See below his reflections on the year that was 2020.
This has been an extraordinarily challenging year but what really stands out to me is the way we pulled together as a local community - and indeed as a state and country - to overcome our challenges.
On a personal level, one of the things I'm most proud of is the response to our support small business campaign during COVID-19.
I was truly impressed with the way people rallied around our businesses and did all they could to buy locally.
This was backed up on a state government level by a support package for small businesses that included the very popular $10,000 COVID adaption grants, which ended up helping hundreds of CQ businesses during this difficult time.
Having said that, there's also a sense in the community that we've turned a corner in some ways this year.
There is a huge amount of work going on around town, much of it funded by the state government while we've also benefited from an influx of Queensland-based tourists who've taken the opportunity to see our home state this year.
This is showing up in both our housing and jobs markets - Seek.com.au is currently showing more than 630 vacancies for Rocky and the Capricorn Coast.
One of our challenges for 2021 is to keep the momentum going and make sure we are keeping that money circulating around by supporting local businesses - and that's something I'm going to continue to focus on.
As I mentioned it's been a big year for infrastructure projects.
Work has started on the upgrade to the Capricorn Highway and continued on the Northern Access Upgrade, Rocky Art Gallery and Capricornia Correctional Centre Upgrade.
The preliminary work on Rookwood Weir has also continued, with construction of the weir itself due to begin next year.
And there is more to come - this year we secured funding for a number of important local projects, including the upgrades of Browne Park and Lawrie Street and Stage 1 of the TAFE Centre of Excellence.
These are all projects I have been working on since I was elected and its extremely gratifying to see them progressing.
On top of that we've secured a commitment from the Premier to purchase the site of the old rail yards so it can play a major role in the revival of our domestic rail manufacturing industry.
On the whole, we've come through a very challenging year fairly well and I'm looking forward to continuing to work hard for Rockhampton and Gracemere in 2021.
Read the full list of Mr O'Rourke's 2020 election promises HERE.
See what's in the 2020 Queensland Budget for the Rockhampton region HERE.