I am calling on the Minister for Agriculture to take notice of the lack of rainfall across the South Burnett region, listen to the local community and issue a drought declaration.
We saw the Minister make an early announcement for the Bundaberg region, and I am calling on him to declare the South Burnett area as in-drought, too.
Every day I have primary producers asking when the region will be drought declared, because they just don’t have any water left.
There has been patchy rainfall, but in general our area is bone dry – especially in places like the Barker Creek Flats, Gordonbrook, Kumbia and Windera.
Recently in Parliament I also questioned the process around drought declarations.
While I understand primary producers can apply for an Individually Droughted Property declaration, I have received many calls about how and why our region’s drought status was revoked in early 2016.
On September 15 last year, I asked a Question on Notice to the then Minister for Agriculture about our local South Burnett Drought Committee and how it works.
The response noted that details of membership and minutes of meetings are confidential to protect the identities of the members, given the sensitive nature of their tasks and decisions.
However, it leaves primary producers in the dark over how decisions about drought are made.
These decisions impact upon thousands of small businesses.
It affects their daily operations, future business decisions and of course, their bottom line.
So I’m calling for more transparency when it comes to the Drought Committees and their decisions, too.
I welcome the release of the Coordinator-General’s report on the Coopers Gap Wind Farm Environmental Impact Study.
As I’ve consistently said since I was first elected in 2012, should this project go ahead it could create up to 350 construction jobs and ongoing employment for up to 20 people in the region.
I am pleased that my push for jobs to be offered to local people has been successful.
The EIS notes that during the construction phase, AGL has committed to maximising local employment and local contractors.
They have also committed to a local ongoing workforce, which means one full-time job for every four to six wind turbines.
My next push will be for the full-time jobs to be based in the South Burnett and I will be making this clear to AGL during future discussions.
In regards to noise levels, I have always said this was a concern, especially for those people who will be neighbours to the wind farm.
The Coordinator-General notes that some submissions to the EIS process also raised these concerns and he has set conditions for AGL to meet.
These include that AGL must provide an updated noise impact assessment prior to construction to confirm the noise modelling they have presented in the EIS.
There must also be a noise monitoring plan for approval prior to construction to demonstrate that the wind farm will operate in compliance with the noise limits.
A further condition is for noise monitoring to be undertaken at 3 months and again at 12 months after the wind farm becomes fully operational.
The school year is well underway and it has been fantastic to meet so many of our new school leaders over the past month.
For many of the primary school leaders, I first me most of them when they were in just Grade One and how much they have grown since then!
May I wish all our new State school leaders across the electorate a terrific year.
I look forward to catching up with them throughout 2017.
Recently the Electoral Commission of Queensland announced a draft for new state electorate boundaries.
Looking at the new maps, it seems like common sense to bring the entire South Burnett into one State Electorate.
The areas of the Somerset that I represent remain unchanged.
Naturally I am disappointed to lose areas located in the Toowoomba Regional and Western Downs council areas, but I am confident that Pat Weir and myself will continue to work together for the region.
I have been proud to represent the people of the Nanango electorate since 2012.
Irrespective of the boundaries, I intend to continue to represent the needs of the people in this great part of our State.
In my opinion, people don’t want us to be wasting time worrying about lines on a map.
There are so many other important issues like health, roads and jobs.
I’m proud to have delivered some great achievements for the South Burnett like funding through the Royalties for Regions program for new overtaking lanes and $10m in funding for the Kingaroy Water Treatment Plant.
We’ve also seen funding for the new Kingaroy and Nanango police stations, new police, a new ambulance station in Kingaroy and works on major road networks.
But there’s so much more to do, and along with my colleagues I will be continuing to fight for our fair share across the region.
We must tackle the growing scourge of domestic violence and I was very proud when the LNP Opposition introduced a Private Members Bill to bring in tough new laws which stand up for DV victims.
While the Palaszczuk Government has been sitting on their hands saying they will ‘look into’ domestic violence laws, the LNP has actually gone ahead and done it.
Our Bill does the following:
Unfortunately, Queensland accounted for a quarter of all domestic-violence related deaths in Australia in 2016.
I have worked in this field and we have seen far too many tragedies. The last thing we want to see is another one.
I hope Members from all sides can look past the politics and support these strong laws because the longer we wait, the longer vulnerable women and children will be put at risk.
To show your support you can sign the petition for our proposed domestic violence laws, which is now online.
[Photos: Nanango Electorate Office]