September 19, 2017
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made a flying visit to Kingaroy on Monday to inspect progress on a string of local State Government projects and to announce support for a $100 million expansion plan at Swickers.
She was accompanied by State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham and Attorney-General and Acting Health Minister Yvette D’Ath.
Ms Palaszczuk also confirmed that the ALP’s candidate for the upcoming State Election would be Yarraman resident Ben Rankin … but she did not have good news for him.
She denied that her visit was part of an election campaign, saying she was always travelling around the State.
“Let’s be upfront, we are definitely not going to win the seat of Nanango,” Ms Palaszczuk said after touring Swickers (see below).
“I want to show Queenslanders that I am here for Queenslanders no matter where you live,” she said.
And although pressed by reporters, she would not say when the election would be called.
Asked if she could “rule out tomorrow”, she laughed and joked “tomorrow’s going to be a beautiful day”.
southburnett.com.au asked the Premier to comment on a suggestion reported in The Australian that Labor’s focus on the seat of Nanango “could improve One Nation’s hopes (in Nanango) by increasing the flow of preferences from Labor … to the minor party and away from the LNP”.
She said she could rule out “absolutely” that Labor preferences in Nanango would be going to One Nation.
“We’re putting One Nation last, right across Queensland. I’ve made that very clear.”
At Swickers, the Premier and Dr Lynham were escorted through major parts of the plant by CEO Dr Robert van Barneveld and General Manager Linchon Hawks.
“We have worked with Swickers since the devastating fire late last year to not only recover but to expand and create more jobs in the South Burnett region,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
Swickers Bacon Factory and its sister facility near Chinchilla are launching into a $100 million-plus expansion.
Ms Palaszczuk said the expansion of the Kingaroy factory and the SunPork Commercial Piggeries would create up to 110 new long-term jobs and up to 100 construction jobs.
“Swickers is a wonderful example of a Queensland company capitalising on changing markets and growth opportunities,” she said.
“Pending a final investment decision by Swickers, the significant assistance will support a $52 million expansion that will more than double processing capabilities,”
The State Government’s Jobs and Regional Growth Fund has also offered financial assistance to SunPork Commercial Piggeries to support a two-stage expansion of their Tong Park Piggery, worth up to $50 million, pending a final investment decision by SunPork.
Tong Park is at Warra, north-west of Dalby.
“Swickers is already one of South Burnett’s biggest employers with over 570 staff. The company’s expansion will see Queensland’s only export-accredited abattoir boost the capacity of both its integrated supply chain and its processing facility,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
Swickers continued to operate onsite since fire destroyed the boning room, chillers and export distribution centre on November 6, last year. About 140 staff were relocated to work at a temporary boning room at Ipswich.
“Immediately after the fire, the Department of State Development co-ordinated the rapid response across government agencies to fast-track processes to bring the facility back to full capacity, including working with Ipswich City Council to set up the temporary facility and accommodation there,” State Development Minister Dr Lynham said.
South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell praised the support Swickers had been given immediately after the fire by the State Government which had recognised the importance of the business to the local economy.
At Kingaroy Hospital, the State Government party talked to staff – who were all keen to move into the new hospital – and inspected interim plans for the facility.
Planning for the $62 million redevelopment is well underway with the appointment this week of an architect to begin work on the project design.
Architectural firm Conrad Gargett has been appointed as the principal design consultants. The firm has worked on other Queensland hospital projects including Sunshine Coast University Hospital, Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane and Mt Isa Hospital.
“The original Kingaroy Hospital, built under Labor Premier William Forgan Smith, has served this community very well since it opened in 1938,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“The needs of the community have grown considerably since that time and I’m very pleased that my Labor government is delivering this much-needed $62 million redevelopment to better equip the hospital for the future.
“The new 66-bed hospital will treat its first patients in 2021 and improve the facility’s role as a hub for trauma, paediatric, obstetric, rehabilitation and mental health services.
“The redeveloped hospital will also provide culturally appropriate environments for the treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.
“I want to thank the hospital’s staff for the work they do and for the role they will play in working to deliver an improved facility for the community.”
The Premier said stakeholder engagement would also occur to provide input to the design of the updated facility.
“This redevelopment will care for and serve the South Burnett community well into the future, so it’s only fitting that the community has a say in the hospital’s design to make sure it meets local needs,” she said.
“Next month, a community advisory group will be established with representatives from community organisations, other government departments, staff and the wider community.
“The Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service is also liaising with the South Burnett Council and Mayor Keith Campbell to complement consultation and regular community communications.”
While Dr Lynham and the Premier were touring Swickers, Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath took the opportunity to inspect the progress of the heavily refurbished Kingaroy Courthouse.
The existing courthouse has been gutted to allow new rooms to be created within the space and the installation of a lift.
She said the good news was that more than 90 per cent of the trades on site were local, a big boost to the local economy.
Ms D’Ath also visited the temporary courthouse across the road which has been in use since the project started.
After visiting Swickers, Kingaroy Hospital and the courthouse, the State Government party was ready to enjoy morning tea in the way that only the QCWA can provide.
Kingaroy QCWA members as well as representatives from a number of other service clubs and community groups gathered at the QCWA rooms in Kingaroy Street to greet the three visiting Ministers.
After an emotional speech by Kingaroy QCWA president Lois Thurecht, Premier Palaszczuk repeated her praise of the outstanding service the QCWA has given over the last 95 years.
Kingaroy was only the second QCWA branch, starting up just 11 days after the movement was founded in Toowoomba.
To celebrate the QCWA’s 95th birthday, the State Government will provide $1 million over two years to restore the association’s heritage halls across the State.
The Premier urged the Kingaroy branch to apply for a grant from the restoration fund to get the roof of their building restored, which was damaged in a recent storm.
“The $1 million restoration funding will be an important part of ensuring halls like Kingaroy’s will be here for many years to come,” she said.
“The funding will mean halls can be painted, gutters or walls can be replaced, and gardens and walkway access can be upgraded.
“It is great news for local businesses and great news for local jobs.”
Premier Palaszczuk said the $4.5 million multi-purpose hall at Kingaroy State High School would support 20 jobs and also create important training opportunities for apprentices.
Design for hall is underway with construction to start in November.
“All going to plan, we expect Kingaroy SHS will have its new hall completed by May 2018,” Premier Palaszczuk said.
“In the past, major school events have had to be held in the Kingaroy Town Hall. I would welcome the invite to next year’s School speech night in the new hall.
“The new multi-purpose 1350 square metres hall at Kingaroy SHS will be an essential piece of infrastructure to benefit the school and the local community. It will include a full size netball court and facilities to enable its use as a performing arts centre.”
The State Government has appointed BBN Constructions to complete the project design following an open tender process.