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28 January, 2020

OPINION: We have been abandoned.

OPINION: We have been abandoned.

By Phil Brandel

There’s a new political party pushing for North Queensland to become its own state. Normally these types of political parties get a few eye rolls and deep sighs from ordinary Queenslanders.

While I may not agree with their main goal, I do understand their frustration. Here on the Tablelands, we have been abandoned by our elected politicians.

Cynthia Lui, is the  Member for Cook and her office is out of her electorate and an hour away in Cairns. At the time of her relocation, she told the Express “I will still continue to work hard for the people of Mareeba by visiting regularly and holding mobile offices.”

Since moving to Cairns, Cynthia has conducted only one mobile office meeting on December 9 and the next one is planned for February 21.

Nearly 3 months for Mareeba residents to see their local Member in their local area.

“I firmly believe that the new office location will give all constituents better access to my office, so I can continue to deliver for all the communities throughout my electorate,” said Ms Lui.

I’m not sure how having an office an hour away means she can see more local constituents?

Even Bob Katter can see the vacuum that’s been left by Cynthia Lui’s relocation (see last week's story)

Recently the Mareeba Shire Council (MSC) was issued with a temporary local planning instrument (TLPI) from the state government. This means it will be near impossible for anyone to subdivide or develop a rural block that is less than 60 hectares.

The Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick made the decision last month without visiting Mareeba or the Cook Shire. He also made the decision without any prior consultation with the Mayor, the MSC, Local Member Cynthia Lui or local residents.

So did the Cynthia take arms against her Brisbane bosses? Did she ring the council to get their side of the story? Did she ask the Minister why she wasn’t consulted beforehand? No, No and No.

Instead, she issued a statement that followed the party line “I support any actions that protect agricultural land and jobs in our region.” Obviously this is what Brisbane wants, but is it what local residents want?

As Mayor Tom Gilmore said “it’s less to do with planning and more to do with the Kuranda Range. This is a convenient way for the Queensland Government to avoid upgrading the Kuranda Range Road.”

It’s obvious that the State Government doesn’t want more people moving to the Mareeba Shire and putting more pressure on the Kuranda Range.

This policy will stifle jobs growth, housing and local development.

As for the Palaszczuk Government, they’re happy to spend money in Brisbane. According to the Brisbane cross-river rail website “The current rail network is already nearing capacity… The $5.4 billion Cross River Rail project unlocks this bottleneck by delivering a second river crossing…”.

Whereas the state government has only allocated $1.25 million for a safety audit on the Kuranda range which Barron River MP Craig Crawford said: “At the end of this project we will have a very clear idea of what upgrades need to be done, where they need to be done and in what order they need to be done.”

A similar report was done in 2003 and in 2017, and we are still waiting.

No wonder some people want to boot Brisbane.

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