NQ FIRST

One Na­tion to di­vert Bris­bane tun­nel cash into wa­ter, power

Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - BET­TINA WAR­BUR­TON

PAULINE Han­son’s One Na­tion will use its in­flu­ence in the next Par­lia­ment to axe a $ 5.4 bil­lion Bris­bane tun­nel project and spend the money on the North’s wa­ter and power cri­sis.

Lo­cal One Na­tion can­di­dates yes­ter­day told the Bul­letin the party would call for the Cross River Rail project to be can­celled and the money used to build a coal- fired power sta­tion and fund long- term wa­ter se­cu­rity for the North.

PAULINE Han­son’s One Na­tion wants to use its in­flu­ence in the next State Par­lia­ment to axe a $ 5.4 bil­lion tun­nel in Bris­bane and use the money to fix the North’s wa­ter and power cri­sis.

The party says it will call for Bris­bane’s Cross River Rail project to be axed and the money used to build a coal- fired power sta­tion and fund longterm wa­ter se­cu­rity for the North.

Bur­dekin can­di­date Sam Cox, the for­mer LNP mem­ber for Thuringowa, yes­ter­day an­nounced a $ 360 mil­lion plan for Townsville’s wa­ter se­cu­rity, in­clud­ing $ 110 mil­lion for wa­ter treat­ment plants, and $ 750 mil­lion for a hy­dro- elec­tric power sta­tion and Stage 2 of the Bur­dekin Falls Dam.

Mr Cox also an­nounced a $ 1.4 bil­lion plan for a 1000- megawatt coal­fired power sta­tion in the North, a $ 310 mil­lion plan for the Tully Mill­stream hy­dro- elec­tric­ity scheme and a $ 400 mil­lion plan for the Wa­ter for Bowen chan­nel scheme.

“One Na­tion will not pro­ceed with the $ 5.4 bil­lion Cross River Rail but in­stead spend that money right across re­gional Queens­land, de­liv­er­ing wa­ter se­cu­rity and lower elec­tric­ity,” he said.

“The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment and In­fra­struc­ture Aus­tralia don’t back Cross River Rail but we won’t be let­ting them walk away from match­ing the fund­ing on th­ese north­ern Aus­tralian projects dol­lar for dol­lar.”

In­fra­struc­ture Aus­tralia last week crit­i­cised the State Gov­ern­ment’s busi­ness case for the tun­nel project.

Mr Cox said One Na­tion’s plan was not “pop­ulist pol­icy”.

“It is pol­icy that will de­liver pub­lic hope again in a gov­ern­ment back on the peo­ple’s side,” he said. “I state there is a caveat that there are no quick fixes here af­ter what this gov­ern­ment has left us with but we must get the es­sen­tials right up front. One Na­tion puts the peo­ple be­fore pol­i­tics.”

Mr Cox said power prices would be cut by 20 per cent if One Na­tion held the bal­ance of power in par­lia­ment.

“We lis­tened to the likes of Queens­land Cane­grow­ers, who ear­lier this year did their own re­port show­ing how huge prof­its from en­ergy com­pa­nies should be com­ing off power bills,” he said. “The old ma­jor par­ties, the ALP and LNP, still don’t re­alise how se­ri­ous an is­sue the cost of power is in the com­mu­nity.

“One Na­tion will be tar­get­ing the $ 1.3 bil­lion paid an­nu­ally by en­ergy pro­duc­ers, which goes di­rectly into con­sol­i­dated rev­enue, and re­duce power costs by 20 per cent.”

Mr Cox said One Na­tion also had a “solid” pro­cure­ment pol­icy.

“Any lost rev­enue would be com­pen­sated through a bet­ter man­aged-- gov­ern­ment pro­cure­ment pol­icy for goods and ser­vices to en­sure every $ 100 spent re­turns $ 100 value,” he said.

“Most gov­ern­ment work was be­ing done by sub­con­trac­tors af­ter the prin­ci­pal con­trac­tor had ( taken) 20 per cent off the top. One Na­tion will end the ‘ pre­ferred providers’ sys­tem and open the scheme to all busi­nesses want­ing to deal with the gov­ern­ment.”

Mr Cox said com­pe­ti­tion drove down prices and a sav­ing of 20 per cent in power costs equated to bil­lions.

THE stage is now well and truly set for the run to the next state elec­tion.

Un­less you have been liv­ing un­der a rock, you can­not have missed the in­creas­ing amount of po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­ity cen­tred around Townsville and the North Queens­land re­gion in re­cent weeks and months.

Pauline Han­son’s One Na­tion has now well and truly en­tered the fray, with its an­nounce­ment that it will use its in­flu­ence to ex­ert pres­sure on Ge­orge St to kill off the $ 5.4 bil­lion Cross River Rail project in Bris­bane.

The project has been panned by In­fra­struc­ture Aus­tralia, which says its anal­y­sis of the State Gov­ern­ment’s busi­ness case shows its cost will far ex­ceed its ben­e­fits.

The State Gov­ern­ment and lead­ers in Bris­bane have re­jected the assess­ment and will plough on with the project re­gard­less.

Mean­while, spi­ralling costs of liv­ing and our ebbing wa­ter sup­ply are bring­ing into stark fo­cus the gap­ing di­vide be­tween the haves in the south­east and the have nots out here in re­gional Queens­land.

One Na­tion wants to take that money and put it into wa­ter se­cu­rity and low­er­ing power prices for re­gional Queens­lan­ders.

The pol­icy is clearly a pitch for the an­gry vot­ers of cen­tral and North Queens­land, where wa­ter and power jos­tle for No. 1 on our list of griev­ances week af­ter week.

Townsville is go­ing to be a cru­cial bat­tle­ground for po­lit­i­cal par­ties and vot­ers in this city will take a lot of con­vinc­ing.

Var­i­ous fac­tors have cul­mi­nated to cre­ate the en­vi­ron­ment in which we live, but no amount of mud- sling­ing by the ma­jor par­ties about who is to blame for wa­ter, power, crime, jobs – pick any topic re­ally – will make a dif­fer­ence when it comes time to vote.

North Queens­land needs so­lu­tions to its prob­lems, not blame games.

The par­ties – or in­de­pen­dents – who pro­duce costed, tested and cred­i­ble so­lu­tions to the prob­lems or­di­nary peo­ple face each day here in the North will win the day.

One Na­tion’s broad­side to the big par­ties is a firm in­di­ca­tion that it is tar­get­ing frus­trated vot­ers in the re­gions out­side of Bris­bane in the forth­com­ing elec­tion.

With this com­ing elec­tion race, the party has a chance to step away from the fringe and play a real role in shap­ing the fu­ture of the state.

If North Queens­land is to be­come the pow­er­house of fu­ture growth and de­vel­op­ment as eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity shifts to North­ern Aus­tralia in com­ing decades, our re­gion must choose rep­re­sen­ta­tives who truly have our city and its peo­ple at heart.

Pic­ture: SCOTT RAD­FORD- CHISHOLM

BOLD: Pauline Han­son’s One Na­tion can­di­dates Mal­colm Charl­wood ( Mund­ing­burra), Sam Cox ( Bur­dekin) and Al­lan Evans ( Townsville) want to scrap a ma­jor Bris­bane project and di­vert the money to the re­gions.

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