BENETT GIVES TOP FOR 2014
THE YEAR IN REVIEW: MP’S TOP FIVE
THE revitalisation of Childers’ streetscape and the huge investment in education count as two of Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett’s top five accomplishments of 2014.
Town & Country has asked each of our local representatives – Bundaberg region councillor Tony Ricciardi, Mr Bennett and Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt – what they rate as the top five projects from their respective levels of government to benefit the Isis district.
Each member was asked what they considered to be their highest and lowest points of the year, as well as a glimpse into what 2015 could hold for our region.
Mr Bennett’s answers are featured here, but be sure to keep an eye out for Mr Pitt’s and Cr Ricciardi’s thoughts next week.
Stephen Bennett’s top five for 2014:
“The Childers CBD has benefited from $1.2m in funding to enhance and beautify the streetscape and make the footpath more accessible. This project is really transforming the CBD, recapturing its heritage features, coupled with modern-day characteristics.”
Crescent St car park, Childers
“With Christmas fast approaching, the extra car parking the Queensland Government helped fund in Crescent St is a boost for local businesses.”
“We’ve made huge inroads into long dental and surgery waiting lists, with new initiatives for local eye surgery in place, and a guarantee that you’ll get your approved surgery, on time.”
Local health facilities
“It’s great to see that patients with serious illnesses can be cared for in their own community at the new palliative care unit at Childers Hospital.
“Local patients needing kidney dialysis don’t need to travel any more, with the first rural renal unit at Childers Hospital.”
Mr Bennett said the move had taken pressure off patients and their families and carers, “providing the health care they need, where they need it”.
Mr Bennett said he was proud of what the government achieved for local schools, from the Great Teachers = Great Results initiative, to “master teachers” helping improve student outcomes, and “every bit of backlog maintenance in Isis fixed with over $1 million of funding”.
Mr Bennett congratulated Childers State School on becoming Burnett’s first Independent Public School.
He said it would mean greater input from parents, teachers and community members to give the school more freedom to shape their own direction and ability to make decisions that would directly benefit their students.
Year 7 transitions and investment for great results. “It’s underestimated how
successful it is,” he said. “It was very rewarding as I was on the parliamentary committee for the reforms.”
Community engagement: Schools, residents’ and ratepayers’ association, chambers of commerce – all local groups were keen to engage. Mr Bennett said he also had more formal engagement in the fields of agriculture and horticulture.
Kindy funding: That was one of the big ones – funding for the kindy to maintain the ramps and front area.
Road solutions: The left-in only lane where Lucketts Rd meets the Bruce Hwy. The improvements to the intersection at the top of the hill just outside town (lights at the intersection). There have also been significant roadworks on Goodwood Rd, which has improved the standard.
Work on the Paragon: It is a fantastic result for all things Childers. The way the community came together and the work the Crafts put in.
Men’s Shed: Securing funding for both the Childers and Woodgate Men’s Sheds.
Roads: Mr Bennett said he was equally frustrated and happy with roads. “The rain damage – it was particularly devastating to see that damage but I was very happy to see the work done to fix them.”
Aged care: It is a significant challenge in Woodgate and other Isis areas. It is a challenging issue that we will continue to work on.
Electricity prices: The biggest thing is the rising electricity costs. “It’s the lowest point in my career,” he said. “The increases over the last six years are hurting everyone, particularly the agricultural sector. It’s easy to make the correlation between the costs of producers and the increasing prices.”
Road toll: The traffic accidents in the region; particularly Apple Tree Creek. “We’re looking forward to partnerships with other governments to help improve road safety across the region,” he said.
What to expect in 2015:
Confidence: Mr Bennett said we can expect to see confidence in both job growth and the real estate sectors. “We’ve put the right mechanisms in place and I think we’ll see those results next year,” he said.
Electricity: The taskforce for electricity will start to see great results. We’ve been clear about that from the start.
Investment: We’ll finally be able to break the shackles of debt and put a lot of money back into our regions.
Election: Mr Bennett doesn’t comment on polls but there is one he cannot escape – the state election, expected to be held in the first few months of 2015.
IMPROVING EDUCATION: Stephen Bennett with Goodwood State principal Steve Coleman.
RIGHT: Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett names the Childers streetscape project as one of his top five for 2014.
ABOVE: Securing funding for the Childers and Woodgate Men’s Sheds was a high point for the Burnett MP.