ALMOST a million Australians are unemployed but the Queensland government can’t rouse itself to fast-track approving the only potential large-scale job creation in Australia: new Queensland mines. Official June figures, released today, show the highest jobless percentage (7.4 per cent) since recorded statistics began In 1998. The 992,000 people now unemployed was an increase of 69,000 on figures for May.

Now is the time to KickStart the Queensland economy by taking advantage of our best performing industries. Any government that refuses to fast-track large-scale jobs, in the worst recession in a century, is just suicidal. By refusing to extend coal-mining in Queensland, the Labor government is effectively throwing extra hundreds of miners onto the dole.

Several Central and North Queensland coal mines are not at peak production.  And still, whenever they have to sign the last authorisation for more coal mines, paralysis sets in. Their hands shake, and they just can’t bring themselves to do it.

The State Department has confirmed there are six coal mine applications, most listed for several years, scheduled to employ as many as 10,000 people. That kind of large scale job creation is exactly what we need and we are very fortunate, in Queensland, to have the means to do it. This is urgent. The government has to authorise these new mines. And it has to do it soon.


THE Great Barrier Reef narrative desperately needs a reality check to give taxpayers and tourist workers a fair deal. Dodgy science and fake news on the reef were costing taxpayers and tourism operators billions of dollars for the sake of perpetuating an ideological myth.

The reef has been used as a weapon in the extremists’ war against capitalism, democracy and the Australian way of life. They say truth is the first casualty of war and that certainly seems to be the case as highly dubious evidence has been used to attack farmers, industry, and everything socialists hate. That narrative – that mining and farmers have killed the reef – is translating to fewer visitors from interstate and overseas.

I met with leading reef expert, Dr Peter Ridd, in Mackay to discuss what was needed for the future of the reef and North Queensland. Dr Ridd identified two key things we needed to change regarding the reef.

“We need to get the science evidence checked and we need to start telling the people in the south-east corner (of Queensland) that not everything that you’ve heard about the state of the reef is true,” he said. “We’re spending a whole lot of money supposedly on the basis that the reef is badly damaged when all the evidence would seem to indicate that it’s not. I’m just asking for a little bit of money just to check some of that science and also to get the message out to the people in the south-east that in fact the reef is in really good shape. There’s all these people down there who think it’s completely damaged when it’s not. It’s in way better condition (than that), probably in excellent condition.”

Both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk have rejected my call to withdraw the billions of taxpayer dollars being used to fight an ideological war against farmers. Both major parties at both levels of government are throwing money at the reef and in the war against farmers because they think it will win votes in the capital cities. But those billions of dollars won’t make any real difference to the reef. They will just send farmers and regional Queensland broke.

At a time when we need to get our economy going again, the last thing we want to see is taxpayer money being used to kill off our most productive industries in mining and agriculture.

NORTH Queenslanders will be very sceptical when asked to provide input on naming a bridge over the Pioneer River. The Department of Transport and Main Roads had started a “Community Consultation Process for the naming of structures on the Mackay Ring Road project”. When the Queensland Government consults the people before naming four bridges on the Mackay Ring Road, the public has two questions:

  1. Is Bridgey McBridgeface  a valid suggestion
  2. Has the outcome already been decided?

The public could be forgiven for being sceptical about how far their suggestions will go and doubting the ideas will make it any further than the wastepaper basket. It was the Queensland Labor government that insisted the name of the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital name had to be changed at a cost of $500,000, arguing that it would attract more funding. Except after the name change, millionaire philanthropists Judith and Trevor St Baker vowed to avoid funding the hospital in the future and hospital donations went down by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The real scandal was the rigged poll Labor ran around the name change, where just 74 IP addresses voted Yes in the poll nearly 18,000 times. Just 24 IP addresses voted more than 10,500 times.  A large number of the IP addresses were identified as being used by Queensland government entities including Ministerial Services and Queensland Health.

The Crime and Corruption Commission later released a damning statement on the public poll but decided not to launch a full corruption investigation due to the cost and problematic data.

The Queensland government will have to provide greater guarantees around transparency before the public will take them seriously. I welcome the locals having a say in what the bridges are called but I don’t welcome the Brisbane Bureaucrats having not just a say but the final say – especially if they make the decision before the public is even asked.

Submissions can be made at and Mr Andrew encouraged locals to have their say through

NORTH and Central Queenslanders with kids who love sport should ensure they don’t miss out on funding opportunities through the Queensland government. A new round is now open for Fair Play vouchers, which offers $150 vouchers for sports-related costs.

Anyone who holds a Health Care Card or Pensioner Concession Card and has a child aged five to 17 should check their eligibility for the vouchers. A lot of parents who have lost work due to COVID-19 may not realise that if they are currently receiving JobSeeker payments, they are eligible for a Health Care Card and the Fair Play voucher. As restrictions lift across Queensland, our attention turns to sport and the financial situation for many families will be strained by this added cost. It is important that every family in Central and North Queensland that is eligible for the vouchers applies now.

The vouchers can be used to pay costs associated with sport and active recreation memberships, registrations, and participation fees.

For more information, visit:

LOCAL shows are in danger of permanently disappearing without properly targeted support. I have asked Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, to match Federal Government support for show societies but to target the support in a way that will bring shows back into regional Queensland. The Federal Government has committed $36 million to support agricultural show societies’ recovery from pandemic-enforced shutdowns.

We want to see an equivalent commitment from the State Government because these shows are an integral part of our regional communities and we can’t afford to lose annual ritual. But it can’t be just a matter of committing funds. The money needs to be targeted in a way that will get results.

After consulting with stakeholders, it became clear that a more targeted approach would be necessary before shows could be held. Keeping the local entities alive to look after the grounds and stage the show is just part of the equation. Even if showgrounds were allowed to host such events later this year, there probably wouldn’t be any shows as we know them. The rides, sideshow alley, food vendors, showbags, and all the stalls that we normally associate with a visit to the show are unlikely to be in a position to simply restart their life. Many members of the Showmen’s Guild and the travellers that follow the show circuit have slipped the gaps of government support and have been financially crippled by the pandemic that shut down their business.

I put a proposal to the Queensland Government this week to target their matched funding to getting the show circuit moving again. I have asked the Premier to consider underwriting the restart of the show circuit because these travelling businesses are a vital part of the show and they simply don’t have the means to get their businesses up and running again. Once they get moving on the circuit again, they will be generating turnover, rebuilding their business and boosting regional economies as well as boosting spirits. While it is likely numbers will initially be down on show attendances prior to the pandemic but we can’t afford to have communities get used to not having a show.

It would be a terrible loss of tradition and social cohesiveness. Everyone in the great State of Queensland has a connection to ‘the show’ and the smaller the community’s population, the stronger that connection will be. I think restoring the ‘local show’ for people that have been through so much will be a welcome relief and a return to normal life. In addition, the local shows have always been a great contributor to the regional economies and we are in desperate need of getting our wealth-producing regions booming again.

The General Manager of the Queensland Chamber of Agricultural Societies, Trevor Beckingham, has called on Members of Parliament to push for funding from the State Government. I’m happy to do that but I also want to make sure we get the right outcomes. It would be a terrible shame if taxpayer money was spent to keep the shows running and we didn’t get that outcome. I understand some of the businesses that travel the show circuit have invested enormous sums of money in stock that they now have to pay to keep in storage. The feedback I am receiving is that even if shows were scheduled for later in the year, those key elements of the show could not afford to attend.

The combination of funds to the local venues (from the Federal Government) and funds for the travelers (from the State Government) will help compensate for what will no doubt be lower-than-normal numbers at local shows when they are able to return.

BOTH sides of politics are blaming farmers for perceived damage to the reef in a bid to win over metropolitan votes. While Queensland Labor is being blamed for spending taxpayer money to demonise farmers through the Reef 2050 Water Quality program, the attacks are being funding by the LNP at the Federal level. Both parties and both governments should hang their heads in shame for the way they are treating farmers and I call on them both to withdraw taxpayer funding from the program and use it to support industries that keep taxpayers employed.

These political parties can’t just place all the blame on farmers without considering the impact our urban population has on water quality. I would go up the Pioneer River, where the fresh is, and drink water out of the river any day but I don’t think the Premier (Annastacia Palaszczuk) would do the same in the Brisbane River any time soon.

The Pioneer River is surrounded by sugar cane farms from top to bottom but Mackay still has the second best drinking water in the world.  For the Reef 2050 funds to be spent on demonising farmers and driving them out of business instead of actually making a difference on the reef is a travesty. The LNP in Queensland likes to pretend they are the friend of the farmers but they never let on that their Federal counterparts are funding this lunacy.

I wrote to the Prime Minister about this issue and asked for taxpayer funds to be withdrawn from the program. The Prime Minister, in his reply, pointed out some of the positive support being offered to farmers to voluntarily change their practices, but he doesn’t’ mention what happens with the millions of dollars in untied funding gifted to the water quality program. The truth is the whole program, including the disastrous measures being implemented by the State, are funded by both the major parties.


KickStart – Reef 2050

Mount Morgan residents face a long wait before the Burnett Highway fully reopens. The highway at the entrance to Mount Morgan has been partially closed since heavy rain caused a rockslide in March this year, leading to long delays and plenty of frustration. It’s incredibly disappointing it has already been two months without anything happening to fix the problem. If this was a partial closure of George Street in Brisbane, it would have been fixed long ago.
The Department of Transport and Main Roads has at least confirmed a survey and detailed design for the repair work has now been completed. The department is now looking for a contractor to carry out the works, which is encouraging. However, while construction work will commence by July, it is not expected to be completed until late this year.
I have previously written to the Minister requesting an urgent fix for this problem, given the impact on locals and local industry. This is a key highway for a number of industries and the extended time delays is a major inconvenience for locals making trips into Rockhampton.
The boulder (about the size of a small car) that came to rest beside the road has been removed and technical experts have inspected the site. As a result of the inspection, the department imposed a single lane restriction with a reduced speed limit. At this stage, those restrictions will remain in place until the work is completed. TMR has rejected a proposed widening of the highway at the site to allow two-way traffic on the basis of cost and the time it would take to build.

I continue to advocate for urgency on a full opening of the highway. It’s not just slowing down trucks and buses going about their business but it’s slowing down everyday life and worker commutes. Workers are finding themselves sitting in the dark early in the morning, with no traffic around, waiting for a traffic light to change.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk remains committed to funneling cash out of regional Queensland and into the south-east corner with a bid for the 2032 Olympic Games. I sent a petition to the Labor government with more than 5,000 signatures calling on the Premier to cancel the 2032 Olympics bid and focus on more important priorities for regional Queensland and the State’s economy. In responding to the petition, Premier Palaszczuk refused to abandon the bid, saying only that discussions were “on hold” due to the Coronavirus impact and claiming the Commonwealth Games were a “great success”.

The Commonwealth Games, also hosted in the south-east corner, were anything but a great success. Those games and, in particular, the way athletes were treated at the closing ceremony were nothing but a joke, being roundly criticised by all and sundry, including the Premier herself, saying organisers should ‘hang their heads in shame’.

What’s worse is the Premier claiming in her response to the petition that the Commonwealth Games cost $1.507 billion for an estimated $2.5 billion boost to Queensland’s Gross State Product ($1.804 billion of which benefited the Gold Coast). You could get the same result standing on the street corner of Cavill Avenue with a wheelbarrow of cash, making it rain $100 bills. What little benefit spilled outside the Gold Coast didn’t make it past Brisbane but it was the whole state that had to fund that $1.5 billion photo opportunity.

The cost of an Olympic Games will be greater by a factor of about 10 and, given the State’s big money earners – mining and agriculture – are both being shut down by the Labor government, it doesn’t make sense to borrow that kind of money. The estimated average cost of hosting an Olympics since 1960 is $12.5 billion. That’s a big ask for regional Queensland to service that kind of debt, especially when any returns that come back to government from hosting the Games will only be used in campaigns against our regional economy.

Now is not the time for frivolities and political grand-standing, when scarce public funds should be directed towards essential services and long-term infrastructure, which will provide widespread economic benefits and permanent jobs. Ordinary people will benefit very little from hosting the Olympic Games.   The Commonwealth Games left the Gold Coast under-whelmed despite the promises that it would deliver for everyone. Regional Queensland was disadvantaged once again at the very time of natural disasters and the drought weighing heavily.

State funding should be prioritised towards education and health with a stronger focus on regional infrastructure like water for agriculture and rural communities, delivering basic bitumen roads, and support for volunteer rural fire brigades.

The battle to end an ideologically-driven closure of gun shops in regional Queensland may be about to claim victory, judging by the last-minute “conversion” of Labor’s Maryborough MP, Bruce Saunders.
Mr Saunders, who has previously expressed his hatred of guns, has come out saying gun shops should be allowed to open. Such a conversion would usually indicates the Labor Party is about to back down and the MP wants to get out on the front foot to convince his constituents he was working for them all along.
I circulated a petition to have restrictions lifted but this is the first sign of support he had seen from the Labor MP. I don’t recall seeing Mr Saunders taking a stand or petitioning against his own government’s knee-jerk regulations. I don’t recall him rushing in to sign the petition.
This last-minute conversion is either an indication of an imminent backflip or he is trying to pull the wool over regional Queenslanders’ eyes. Central Queenslanders know the Labor Party hates guns and they hate the people who use them. They also know that the Labor Party has no regard for the needs of farmers or anyone else living outside the south-east corner so they won’t be fooled as easily as Mr Saunders believes.

The Queensland Labor government has dramatically cut the lifeline it threw to small businesses only weeks ago, abandoning business owners and their employees in their time of need. I have called on the State government to urgently restore the QRIDA concessional loan facility that it closed early, leaving small business without the cash flow to pay employees. Having only just thrown out the lifeline, the Labor government has cut off the line, leaving drowning businesses with nothing but a wet piece of rope.
The QRIDA loan facility was put in place specifically to help small business to retain their staff and make JobKeeper payments but the program was closed just a few weeks after being introduced.  Small business owners now have no means of raising the JobKeeper money ($1,500 a fortnight for each eligible employee) that must be paid from 1 March 2020 in order to qualify for the Federal Government’s ‘reimbursement’ under the JobKeeper program in mid-May.
Many businesses are struggling to keep going in the current environment and I expect we will see widespread failure of small business if the Government doesn’t act immediately to redress the situation. The issue was compounded by the State Government putting a wide range of its Advance Queensland direct grants, designed to support small business, ‘on hold’, including the Entrepreneur Grant, the Digital grant and the Ignite Grant. These grants were vital in helping to stimulate and support small business in Queensland and shutting them down now, when small business is already struggling more than any other sector, is going to have a disastrous impact on many small business owners.
We can’t have small business owners, who are the job-creators, becoming the ‘forgotten people’ of COVID-19 as numerous businesses report they are being turned away by the banks or forced to rely on family and friends to provide short-term loans.
QRIDA loans that were paid out seem to have gone primarily to larger businesses who had the means to “get in quick”. Some big businesses even applied under different business entities and received multiple loans under different company names. Small business does not have access to the array of professional services and consultants that big business does and many have gone to make a QRIDA loan application, only to be told the program was fully subscribed weeks ago and now closed. This is an appalling situation and the Palaszczuk government needs to introduce a follow-up loan program, specifically geared towards small businesses. It should focus on those with fewer than 19 staff and maybe put a cap on the annual earnings of the business to ensure that the larger businesses don’t run off with all the money this time.