Thursday, May 25, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
Last week, a lively Bowen Chamber of Commerce meeting saw guest speaker, Leader of the Nationals David Littleproud MP, share his ideas for a strong and stable regional future.
Accompanied by the Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox MP, Mr Littleproud outlined his vision for the next federal Coalition government and addressed topics including the 2023 Federal budget, the housing crisis, northern Australian development, the renewables shift, and dams, among other topics.
Referring to the modest surplus in the Federal budget, Mr Littleproud was adamant that the first surplus in many years had come from the efforts of the hard-working rural sector.
"This budget is a welfare budget,” he said.
“It is not necessarily putting money back in the economy.”
Mr Littleproud believes it fails to address the skills and worker shortages bedevilling our economy.
Instead of $4-6 billion in welfare payments, he asserts that it should have been directed into a transition to work focus, "to give hardworking Australians the opportunity to get back into work," he said.
Mr Littleproud was also critical of the plan to bring 1.5 million migrant workers into the country, who he believes would put pressures on the economy.
Rather, the Government should give these workers a pathway to citizenship which would, in turn, would offer regional Australia access to the skilled workers it so badly needs.
"We need to put regional Australia on a competitive footing with urban areas," he said, adding that under Labor many of these workers would flow mainly to the major cities.
He also said that the LNP policy of establishing satellite learning campuses allowed workers to stay in towns and develop their skills where they were most needed.
Mr Littleproud said health was a critical factor in drawing new people to centres like Bowen and he was critical of Labor policy that he said drew in overseas doctors who were offered no incentive to go to regional centres.
He also vented his concerns about the costs involved in moving towards a renewable future.
"28 thousand kilometres of transmission lines are needed for the green transition," he said, while power costs for the food sector had tripled, "and that comes back to us.
"In the rural sector, we are going to get it in the neck again.”
Mr Littleproud was also critical of the rise of wind turbines and solar farms, saying while some producers had profited from the use of their land to host these facilities, he was against using prime agricultural land for these purposes.
Instead, he said modular nuclear reactors offered a cost-effective way to site energy-producing facilities closest to the most energy-hungry centres, and did not require new transmission infrastructure, as well as using new technologies such as carbon capture to enable the country to keep using coal and gas.
"We have plenty of time to solve this.
“This government has brought it forward; they have taken a reckless path," Mr Littleproud said.
"Our biggest asset is that we have complete resource security and sovereignty."
During his time in Bowen, Mr Littleproud and Mr Willcox toured the Gilmour Space Technologies’ Bowen Orbital Spaceport to see how plans are progressing for the first launch which is expected to take place within the next few months.
“These innovative guys plan to launch the Eris rocket into space later this year,” said Mr Willcox.
“If successful it will be Australia’s first homegrown orbital spacecraft!
“The Coalition know that investment into the Australian Space Industry will yield many benefits, and I was delighted to hear our hard work has paid off.
“I know I will certainly be watching this ‘Space’.”
Bowen Chamber of Commerce president Bruce Hedditch (from left) talks policy with Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox and Leader of the National Party David Littleproud. Photo credit: Paul Gellatly
Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox MP and Leader of The Nationals, David Littleproud MP tour the Gilmour Space Technologies’ Bowen Orbital Spaceport. Photo supplied