Transcript: Mackay doorstop with Member for Dawson George Christensen MP
So, thank you very much for coming along today. It's great to have the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, here, along with the Deputy Mayor, Amanda Camm, Councillor Ross Gee, who is out here at the northern beaches, Greg Williamson is unable to attend because he's currently in community meetings at the moment.
But this is a fantastic announcement today for the Northern Beaches. $6.5 million that Michael McCormack has announced through the community development grant program to go towards establishing the Northern Beaches Community Hub. This will include a range of different services for the Northern Beaches Community.
The anchor tenant, I guess, will be the Council Library. And libraries are so much more than books these days. They really are community hubs for themselves. Hanging off that is also going to be meeting rooms, precincts where local community groups can gather and operate out of. There's an identified need for mental health services in this region, so good not for profit groups like Head Space and Selectability are interested in partnering with Council as part of this hub to provide those services from here.
And there's also going to be, potentially, depending on the site located, some sporting precincts and sporting areas, surrounding this community hub. So this is a huge win for the Northern Beaches community. We've had a lot of focus, I guess, on the south side of the river. And we want more focus on the north side of the river, given that this is the growth area for the Mackay Region. And I'll let the Councillors perhaps talk about that a bit more, if they can.
But, this is great news for families out here who are desperate for more facilities, more services, and more sporting stuff. I put my priority into this project - $6.5 million is a lot of funding, and when you have millions of dollars that's available to go into a community effort, you have to listen to the community. And people like Ross Gee, Amanda Camm here, have been talking to be about the need for this community hub in the Northern Beaches. Locals here in the Northern Beaches have been talking to me about it.
What people haven’t been talking to me about it, is putting $5 million into one very big club in Mackay that has Pokies but that seems to be the Labor push. If I've got millions of dollars available, I'm going to put it to where the community needs it, and they desperately need it out here at the Northern Beaches.
I'll hand it over to Michael to say a bit more about the announcement.
Yeah, look, thanks, George, and it's great to be here with Amanda Camm, the Deputy Mayor, Mackay Regional Council, and also Councillor Ross Gee. Disappointed the Mayor's not here. I always look forward to beating him in running races, but the fact is, he, too, I know, is delighted with this announcement. Fact is, he, too, understands, certainly, as do the rest of the council, and George Christensen understands that this is the fastest growing area for young families in Mackay.
This area has around, I think, Amanda, 22,000 people that want to build it up. Got plans in place to develop it to about 35,000 people. When you've got young families, they need a place to go. They need a place to congregate. They need a place which has all the sorts of facilities that a young, growing community deserves and expects. And this community hub announcement today, $6.5 million, is being announced because George Christensen has fought hard for it. He's campaigned for it, he's advocated for it. And now he's delivering for it. Just like he delivered the Mackay Ring Road. Just like he delivered the Harrup Country Club sports precinct announcement, recently.
Just why and how he delivered everything else that he has for in the Mackay region, for the Dawson electorate over many years. Nine years of delivery. That's the George Christensen way. Nine years of jobs, nine years of progress and growth and development. That's what George Christensen stands and fights for. I'm really delighted to be here with the Council representatives, with your federal representative, to make this announcement today.
$6.5 million is going to go a lot in the way of building community capacity. And when you've got a new library, you've got new meeting rooms, when you've got the sort of precinct that this community hub is going to foster, you've got great community development. You've got great prospects for young families to say, "You know what? I think we'll move to the Northern Beaches." Or, fact is, they'll look at it and go, "That's a destination point that we want to get to in the future." And that's what this is all about. Building a better future for Mackay. Building a better future for Dawson. That's what George Christensen stands for.
I'll hand it over to Amanda to say a few comments and then happy to take any questions.
Thank you, Deputy Prime Minister, and thank you, George. Certainly, Mackay Regional Council welcomes this announcement today. It is something that Ross Gee, my fellow Councillor out here at the Northern Beaches has really been strongly advocating for, since he was elected onto Council.
But we know, we've done a significant amount of work to help business case this community hub, and we know that the need is significant out here in the Northern Beaches. We do have the largest population of young families out here. We do know that there are challenges around mental health. This is going to provide a hub and an opportunity for people to meet.
We do know that we under service out here, in relation to recreational facilities. And so Council is embarking upon its due diligence process, to identify the best location for this community hub, and we look forward to making announcements in this year's budget, coincide with this very welcome federal funding, to help kickstart this project and get it constructed for the families in the community out here in the Northern Beaches. Thank you.
As a local resident of the Northern Beaches for the past four years, it's really good to be in this position, to be able to identify the gaps, and have strong Councillors. Deputy Mayor Amanda Cam has supported me right through this, and to have a federal government that stands behind you and actually delivers, it's going to be a really good, really good future for the Northern Beaches, and I think we all share the same vision.
And can I just add to that, Ross?
You can add whatever you like.
I want to say, well done to this bloke. Because Ross came to me ages ago, talking about the need for this. Took me out to see a few sites. Really, really pushed hard. He strikes a hard bargain. And we've got it. And really, it's well done for your efforts, mate, good on you.
I know that a very passionate issue in Northern Beaches is achieving another access road outside of the Northern Beaches, and I know that it's a pretty complicated issue with federal, state, council land. Is that something that will be worked upon?
Look, I know that Council has got plans in the future, I know the plans have been long standing, because I was actually on Council a decade ago, and we were discussing those plans then. I'll let Council talk more about it but suffice to say that as development continues in the Northern Beaches, the town plan basically has proposals as those developments have come on line. A secondary arterial road will be created, principally through development contributions. But look, we've a Roads to Recovery fund, we've got other funds that we deliver to local government, and if there is identified a need, to bring that on earlier, I'm happy to talk to Mackay Regional Council about what we can do at getting that done further.
I'll pester Michael until we get it. They currently have the plan, I know they do, and these guys will confirm that, but the plan does rely on further development happening. And you know, when you're putting infrastructure like this community hub, it spearheads more development. More people will want to come because there's something like that here for the local community, so perhaps this will be a bit of an instigator for that further development that will lead to that secondary arterial road going out here.
For the Deputy Prime Minister, can you shed any light, in terms of this preference deal we’re hearing about that Clive Palmer is speaking about today?
Well, the fact is, I think preferences are an obsession by journalists. I think people who are voting for the first time in this election today at pre poll are too worried about preferences. All they want to do is they want to get in, cast their vote. To them, I would suggest that they vote LNP here in Queensland, number one. Elsewhere in the nation, they've got a Nationals candidate there, put a number one beside their name, and make sure they fill out ever box.
If they've only got a liberal candidate, put a one beside their name, and fill out every box. Make sure they make their vote count. We don't want any informal votes. Have you say. Fact is, at the end of the day, preferences, yes, every party goes out of their way to shore up minor party preferences. In my seat, the Greens and Labor are actually preferencing United Australia Party, the Palmer Party, ahead of me. It's not just the Liberals and Nats who have got questions to answer, is also Bill Shortern about preference deals that they've made.
As I say, I can't emphasize it enough. You've got an LNP candidate, like George Christensen, who actually delivers, who actually gets on and achieves things for his electorate, put a number one beside their name, and you can't go wrong.
Have you done a deal with Pauline Hanson for preferences?
I haven't done any deals with anybody. Fact is, I'm concentrating on making sure that we get the right infrastructure in the right places. The fact is, I'm getting on with the job of being the infrastructure and transport minister that people expect me to be, and building up regional development.
So, yesterday, I was in the seat of Leichardt with Warren Entsch, announcing a dam business, a dam case. We've already got the business case there, and we now want to progress that Lakeland irrigation dam project through to shovel ready status. This morning, we're here, announcing a country community hub for Mackay that's going to further develop the Northern Beaches, making sure that young families have a place to go, and building community capacity, as people would expect.
I don't hear too many people worrying about preferences, worrying about those sorts of things. They're worried about being able to pay their bills. They're worrying about making sure that livability of their country communities is improved, and that's what-
Deputy Prime Minister, can you give us some reactions, today's news poll shows 51-49 to Labor. You're still in the losing position. What's your feedback from the national seats on the ground?
The only poll I'm worried about, Matt, is the May 18 poll, and the three weeks, of course, the pre poll that started today. And the fact is, if you look at polling, no matter who it's done by, it doesn't always accurately reflect the sentiment of voters. A week is a long time in politics. A day can be a long time in politics.
Fact is, that May 18 is the day when they will count all of the votes on that particular day, and then they'll count the postals, they'll count the prepolls, and hopefully the LNP, as we deserve to be, will come out on top so that we can continue to build a better Australia that people want. They're very worried about shifty Bill Shorten, they're very worried about their costs of living going up. They're very worried about paying more tax under Bill Shorten, and I'm sure, when people get into that ballot box, into the privacy and the sanctity of that ballot box, they get that pencil and they get that ballot paper in front of them, I'm sure, they'll think about their future, they'll think about the future for their kids, they'll think about the future for jobs, and they'll put a one beside the LNP candidate's name.
George, quick question for you. Who will be last on your How to Vote card?
I'm not going to obsess about how to vote cards, but Labor, Greens and the Anning Candidate is last
The Anning candidate is last?
Yeah, correct, Labor and the Greens just above It so the final three in this order, from last, to second or third last, is Anning, Greens, Labor. So, just to be clear. And, look, I've got no problems how to vote card, putting Labor and the Greens down the bottom, below other candidates, because they present a real threat to this region. The threat that they present to mining and farming in particular.
Yeah, well, as long as they put Labor and Greens down at the bottom, that's good, too, because they represent a threat to our region. It's a mining region, it's a farming region, and quite frankly, when we have industries like mining and agriculture going gangbusters, then we have the money that's coming in to government coffers, that can do things, like this Northern Beaches community hub here today. If we don't have the economy going well, we don't have local jobs, granted, but we don't have the tax revenue that we need to actually deliver infrastructure for the community like this.
That's why I say put Labor and the Greens last. The Greens are going to plan to shut down coal mining by 2030. Labor are not saying what they're going to do. They are talking about Adjust Transition Authority that will transition people in business and communities out of coal mining and into something else. We don't know what the something else is, yet, they haven't told us that. But they represent a threat to the economy, so they're down the bottom.
George, last night you said you were in for a tough fight. Labor's main attack line has been about your travel overseas, saying that ordinary workers get four weeks leave and you've taken 11. Are you thinking that's going to be pretty damaging towards you?
Look, Labor can do the political muckraking, and that's what it is. Voters know that muds thrown at election time. I'm just focusing on things that matter to them. What matters to them is mining jobs, farming jobs, those industries, delivering vital community services. We can only do that with a strong mining industry, strong farming sector. And that's what I'm going to focus on.
Labor can focus on the personal attacks and the mudslinging, all they like, go for it. I think the voters will be very harsh on them.
Do you regret spending so much time overseas?
Once again, that's a Labor line, and Labor mudslinging will just go on. I'm going to focus on local jobs, supporting local industry.
What’s your reaction to the incidence that happened at Clermont last night?
Well, look, I've seen, are we talking about the horse running ...
The horse, yes.
Yeah, well, look, I've just seen some information come through from Queensland Police, which has indicated that unlike what the Greens reported it to be, it was a bloke having a bit of a gee up on the horse, running around on the horse there, not hurting anyone. Apparently protestors tried to close the gates on this individual, which spooked the horse, and that unfortunate incident occurred.
It actually wasn't a case of violence. It was a case of someone riding a horse around in an area, and people trying to do something, which actually, I think, it not just spooked the horse, I think it actually connected with the horse.
But it was illegal, is that right?
Well, they'll get the Queensland Police, understand that their investigations as I was just saying, may not have been as it was reportedly by the extreme Greens.
Would you be happy to address with your supporters online who are following that?
I will finish up on that, and I will say, look, it's very unfortunate that someone got injured. But, I am really worried about the impact of all of these activist mobs are having on industry and on jobs. I mean, there is a concerted campaign to shut down coal mining, to shut down agriculture, cane farming, grazing, fishing. On and on it goes. All of the industries that support us up here, in terms of local jobs, they're under attack.
And so people get angry. I don't want to see any violence, but I also don't want to see any provocation. There's a question mark there what happened at Clermont. Enough to say everyone probably needs to calm down and not get physical. But certainly, we need our voices heard, to stand up for jobs and industry in our region.
Thank you very much for coming.