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26 April, 2022

Candidates hit campaign trail

POLITICAL candidates for Kennedy had their first hit out last week as they gathered in Atherton on for a “Meet the candidates” luncheon and debate.

By Rhys Thomas

Greens candidate Jennifer Cox, Labor’s Jason Brandon, incumbent member Bob Katter, LNP candidate Bryce McDonald and UAP candidate Peter Campion had their first hit out last week at the Advance Cairns meet the candidates luncheon.

Hosted and run by Advance Cairns, the luncheon brought together ALP candidate Jason Brandon, LNP candidate Bryce Macdonald, United Australia Party candidate Peter Campion, Greens candidate Jennifer Cox and incumbent member, Bob Katter.

The candidates were each given three minutes to address the gathered 30-strong crowd about what they believe were the biggest issues in Kennedy before the floor was opened up to questions.

Through the event, it became clear that housing and road links from the Tablelands to Cairns were standout topics, with all candidates agreeing both issues need actioning.

“Every single council that I’ve been through we’ve talked about the fact that there is not enough housing,” Mr Brandon said.

“It’s about community or social housing, it’s a key thing that we need to do to get people in the houses that need it and with that, the Labor Party has got 10,000 houses for frontline workers as well.”

But Mr Macdonald said to supply new housing stock would mean a solution has to be found to address the shortage of skilled tradespeople.

“There is a shortage of tradespeople to build a house – every house you need a carpenter, plumber, roofer, concreter and there is a shortfall and we’ve got to find a solution to that as well,” he said.

Mr Katter linked the solution for additional housing to the development of his Bridle Track proposal which he claims will open up 20,000 hectares of land for subdivisions.

“As far as housing goes, you punch the Bridle Track tunnel, there is 20,000 hectares of subdivision ready.”

Mr Campion told the crowd that the current housing crisis wasn’t solely due to a lack of housing, but in part, due to foreign ownership.

“In part, it’s about our foreign ownership rules – if we’re building residences, we really need them to be occupied,” he said.

“We have a plan to return 25 per cent of the wealth created by regions to the regions to have a zoneable tax rebate of 20 per cent and to encourage regional development as much as possible.

“There are lots of things we can do but we have to shake off the globalist organisations that are directing our major parties and causing the ruin of this nation.”

According to Ms Cox, the Greens plan to build one million homes in 20 years, saying “everyone deserves an affordable place to live”.

“It’s caused by consecutive governments not putting any public housing in for many years and the fact that the State Government has actually sold off 1,400 public houses and properties in Queensland,” she said.

“Privatising social housing through the first homeowners’ grants has only inflated the market, it has increased house prices, it has locked a whole generation out of home ownership and decreasing deposit requirements or taking super for deposits only puts people further in very dangerous levels of debt.”

A question from the floor by young university student Gullara McInnes on what measures would be taken by each candidate to manage traffic flow between the Tablelands and the coast brought a surprising response from Ms Cox who suggested the Cairns Airport should be relocated to Mareeba.

“Obviously we need to fix the current infrastructure on the Kuranda Range road to deal with it -there’s lots of big idea but it needs it now so we need to widen that road and support that bridge (Barron River),” she said.

“In the long-term I think it would be a really good thing to build a commuter train from Mareeba to Cairns and considering climate change is coming, we’re probably going to have to move the Cairns Airport considering that we claimed land from the mangroves.

“We will probably have to put the airport up in Mareeba and it’s been discussed for many years.”

Mr Macdonald reiterated his position the range road issue, saying while he supported the creation of an alternative route, the solution was in the hands of engineers.

“I’m not an engineer but I certainly support the fact that we need to open up not only the Tablelands but the Gulf. I am fully supportive of a Kuranda Range road alternative route but engineers do all that sort of stuff.”

Mr Katter stood and addressed the lunch, stressing that his Bridle Track proposal was undoubtedly the best alternative route to link the two areas.

Mr Campion is also on record as favouring a particular route which involves a 7km surface road from the Kennedy Highway near the Davies Creek turnoff, connecting to a 17km, gently sloped tunnel emerging at Ray Jones Drive.

He claimed his proposal was the only option to date that would pay for itself.

In his response, Mr Brandon referred to last week’s Labor’s recent announcement it would upgrade the Kuranda Range Road.

“Labor announced $210m to do upgrades on the Kuranda Range Road and there is also a feasibility study into what we can do moving forward so Labor is doing something to actually fix it, not just talking about it,” he said.

The candidates will meet again for the second round of their election battle in Mareeba this Thursday at the Mareeba Soccer Club.

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