TRANSCRIPT: Opening of Mackay Sports Precinct Ooralea, Mackay Qld, 9 March 2019
With: Michelle Landry MP, Assistant Minister for Children and Families, Member for Capricornia and George Christensen MP, Member for Dawson.
Subjects: Opening of Aquatic and Recreation Complex at Central Queensland University; funding for regions; cutting tax; power prices; ‘big stick’ legislation; surplus Budget; leadership.
It’s wonderful to be at the opening of the Aquatic and Recreation Complex here at Central Queensland University. And it’s wonderful to have the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, and my colleague George Christensen here.
This is something that we have fought long and hard for, and I’m so pleased that the Federal Government put $10 million towards this nearly $24 million project. When I first was elected I came here and saw Pierre and he said: I’ve got this plan Michelle, a $76 million project. And I’m thinking oh yes, righto – but today we see that persistence does pay off. Stages One and Two have been completed. I believe they are working on Stages Three and Four.
But this is an asset for the whole of the community. This is not just about the university – this is really about Central Queensland and the whole of this nation. They will be able to hold national, international sporting events here. This will encourage more students to the area, more tourism to the area. So this is a total win for the whole of Central Queensland.
So I’m very pleased that we could put $10 million on the table towards this wonderful complex.
It’s fantastic to be here at the opening of the Mackay ARC. This is a state-of-the-art sporting facility for our entire region. So many jobs have been created, local jobs, during the construction of this project. I have to say: Hats off to the Mackay Regional Council and their excellent management of the project. I’m very pleased that the Federal Government has been able to invest $10 million.
It is one of the great investments by the Liberal National Government in this region. It’s something that helps particularly young people, our sporting champions for years and years to come. But I think the biggest benefit of this is what it’s going to put into our economy, because it will drive state, national, perhaps even international events here to our region. When you look at these state-of-the-art facilities, they are the best of the best.
So it will drive those events, and that will mean flow-on tourism benefits for the entire Mackay region. That means more local jobs. That’s why this investment has been important, not just for those who enjoy their sport but for the whole economy and for local jobs.
I am so proud to be here alongside my LNP colleagues today Michelle Landry and George Christensen, both of whom have fought so hard to make sure that this regional investment paid off. And indeed it has paid off. This nearly $24 million sports precinct is going to be transformational for not just the people of Mackay but indeed for the entire Central Queensland area, indeed for the entire state.
As Michelle and George both point out, this is going to be a facility that is going to attract state and national, perhaps even international events. This is going to create even more investment, even more jobs but certainly better options for not just aspiring athletes, not just those athletes who once upon a time or even now are dreaming of becoming an Olympic champion, but for those ordinary everyday kids who just want a great track to run around, who just want a really good pool to dive into. It’s going to be for them and their families, those families from Mackay, those families who are also going to look at Central Queensland University and think: You know, that’s a great option for my future educational opportunities.
So well done to Nick Klomp. I know he’s only been here a short while, five weeks in fact as the Vice Chancellor, but already he’s making an impact. And well done too to the Mackay Regional Council Mayor Greg Williamson. He mightn’t be able to run – I’ve beaten him now twice..two times out of two (laughter) but by gee he’s got a winner here today in this wonderful sports precinct.
So well done to Greg and his council: I know how hard they and their staff have worked to get this facility up and running. $10 million of Federal funding towards this brilliant, outstanding, amazing, remarkable facility which is going to make such a difference for this community and for Central Queensland.
I’ve just seen Greg Williamson on the phone to a couple of the personal trainers – do you reckon he’s got you next time? (laughter)
No, not at all, and in fact he is actually in the hands of the swabbers at the moment because he did even a little bit better than he did last time. He’s been in training for months and months. We had a 15 metre race last time – I beat him then. George Christensen actually competed then as well. George came last, a long last; daylight was second. Michelle Landry actually has a broken toe from kicking my door down to get more regional funding for Capricornia. George too – always advocating, always campaigning for more funding, for better outcomes for families, for the constituents of their regions.
This is a great announcement today. This is a great opening. I’m so pleased to be here. And notwithstanding that I’ve given Greg another thrashing, I’m just really really pleased to be here in Central Queensland. You look at the looks on the faces of the kids in the pool and at the track – they’re so happy. Of course it’s a free day today. It’s going to be a wonderful day every day for this year-round facility which is going to transform the lives of people who live in and around Mackay. Well done to all concerned.
So what you’re really saying is Greg Williamson is a marathon runner not a sprinter.
Look, I’d be happy to race him over 42 kilometres – any venue, anywhere in Australia. (Laughter). I’d be happy to race him on dirt. I’d be happy to race him on a wonderful artificial surface such as this. Greg Williamson is a loser when it comes to running against me but he’s certainly a winner when it comes to making sure that Mackay Regional Council gets the outcomes it needs for the ratepayers in this community. He’s a fantastic fellow. We get on very very well and I know how much this means to him. I know how much this means to the people of Mackay. It only comes thanks to the hard work and dedication as well from people such as George Christensen and Michelle Landry – they are in there fighting hard for the LNP. Moreover they are in there fighting hard for the people they serve.
Would the Government consider funding or putting money in for a big national sporting event to be held here?
We’re always open to those sorts of things. I think this will draw it on its own without needing funding. The fact that we’ve got state-of-the-art facilities here, that we’ve got a world’s best facility here, is going to attract these sorts of events with or without state or federal funding. I know the people are going to come here. Moreover they are going to be able to compete here and spend money here – and that’s what these sorts of things are all about. And it’s not just about championships at a state and federal level that might be held – it’s also about the ordinary everyday kids who are just going to have fun here, and that’s the important thing – family fun.
Do you think cutting personal income tax will help stimulate wage growth?
Indeed. And we’re a Government that stands for lower taxes. We’re a Government that stands for lower power prices. That’s what we do – each and every day. We’re fighting hard to make sure that there are tax cuts - $530 per individual, that’s the sort of commitment we’re making. That’s the sort of delivery we’re doing.
What’s does Bill Shorten stand for? Higher taxes. Higher power prices. Bill Shorten stands for unions running this country, for Green votes in inner-city areas. Look at the delivery we’ve done to date through Michelle Landry and George Christensen. This sort of regional funding will stop under a Shorten Labor Government. Rest assured they will cut these regional programs, they will cut these sorts of funding projects and they stand for higher taxes.
The Budget is going to be announced on April 2 and it’s going to be a surplus Budget – the first time in a dozen years that there’s going to be a surplus Budget announced. Last time Labor produced a surplus Budget was I think 1989. Well George probably wasn’t even born then – that’s how long ago it is – George was probably still in short pants at school. That’s the last time that Labor produced a surplus Budget. They don’t know the meaning of surplus – they don’t know the meaning of getting an economy back on track. We’re on a great track today. It’s starting to rain and we’d better get out of here – thanks, well done.
(Further press conference):
Will you and George be supporting the ‘big stick’ legislation?
George and I both support the ‘big stick’ legislation, as does everybody in the Government. It’s our legislation. The fact is we want to drive down power prices. The fact is, too, the Queensland Labor Government could drive down power prices tomorrow. They run the generators. They operate the turbines. They’ve got all the poles and wires. They could do something about power prices in Queensland tomorrow should they so wish.
But the fact is, they play politics. We stand for lower power prices for people, for businesses. It’s interesting that modelling today is showing that businesses are paying hundreds of dollars over the odds and they certainly will with an emissions reduction target that Bill Shorten will put in place – they are going to be paying hundreds and hundreds of dollars over what they should be paying.
These 45% emissions reduction targets by Bill Shorten and Labor are completely nuts. What we stand for is for businesses and for households to have affordable energy so that we don’t de-industrialise Australia, we don’t stop manufacturing from happening in Australia, particularly – particularly – in areas such as Central Queensland, where we know that there is a big call on power, where we know householders just want to pay affordable electricity.
As I say, Labor in Queensland could do something about it tomorrow should they so desire.
What happens now that Mackay’s Harrup Park has officially secured the $10 million from the Regional Growth Fund? Do they have to wait until after the election?
We’re also calling on the State Labor Government here to stump up some money as well. It’s a great project. It wouldn’t have happened without George Christensen’s advocacy. It wouldn’t have happened without him bringing forward a great submission. I spoke with the proponents, met with them in Canberra; I’ve looked at it up here and I’m looking forward to having a look at it this afternoon as well, rain notwithstanding. It’s a great facility. It stacks up. And $10 million worth of Federal funding – that’s what George Christensen does, he delivers, he looks at these sorts of projects that are going to bring investment, going to bring opportunities for his community, he fights hard for them.
We’ve delivered. I’ve delivered. And I’m looking forward to having a look at the project this afternoon. It also requires joint funding and I call on State Labor to do something about that.
Barnaby Joyce has said he’d stick his hand up for your job. Why would he undermine you like that?
Barnaby needs to concentrate, and I know he is concentrating, on making sure that he continues to deliver for New England. I saw him yesterday out there, delivering a Building Better Regions Fund project for the New England area. He is going to work very very hard to win his electorate back – that’s what all the National Party people are focused on. There’s no spill, no spill whatsoever. I’m feeling very safe, very comfortable in my role and I have the backing of my team. I have the backing of my team and the fact is there is no spill.
The fact is we are all getting on board with making sure that we continue to deliver for rual and regional Australia, for rural and regional Queensland. I know George is up here fighting hard for them every day. Stories of a Nats spill are quite frankly unsubstantiated. They are a figment of one journalist’s imagination and it probably says more about her than it does about anything else.
(Inaudible) was reinstated as National Party Leader he would stand a better chance.
It’s hypothetical. It’s not going to happen. It’s a hypothetical, it’s a silly question and it ain’t going to happen. Not now. Not when we return to Parliament. And not before the election. I know the National Party are right behind what I’m doing and how I’m doing it, and you only have to look at this sort of announcement today, this sort of opening today – it is because we have a united National Party team fighting hard for delivery for the people in these areas.
The focus should always be on the constituents we serve. The focus should always be on regional towns and communities. Journalists can talk all they like about personalities and that sort of thing. I’m focused on delivering outcomes and achievements for the people we serve. I know George Christensen is as well. That is our only focus.
Thank you very much.