What motivated you to stand in this election?
I’ve seen this region go backwards under a Labor Government and it really saddens me. There are so many worthwhile projects and people with passion, who just need a bit of support – but our region has seen nothing in the way of investment to get these off the ground. It’s also been an experience being in Opposition – while it’s good to be able to put the right people together to achieve things and make changes, I’m looking forward to being able to do more.
If elected, how would you improve the quality of our waterways and marine environment and work to protect the Great Barrier Reef from the threats of climate change, contaminated sediment and crown of thorns starfish?
The Coalition, if elected, will implement a Reef 2050 plan to ensure the long term management and protection of the Reef, addressing the threat posed by the Crown of Thorns, reducing run-off and improving water quality. I recently announced $5 million for dugong and turtle protection, comprising: $2 million for specialised Indigenous Ranger Programs for marine conservation along the Far North Queensland Coast and for strengthened enforcement and compliance; $2 million for an Australian Crime Commission investigation into the practice of illegal killing, poaching and transportation of turtle and dugong meat; $700,000 towards cleaning up marine debris along the Far North Queensland Coast, the Torres Strait Islands and in the Coral Sea; and $300,000 to support the Cairns and Fitzroy Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centres. Within six months we will also introduce Federal legislation to triple the penalties for poaching and illegal transportation of turtle and dugong meat, establish a National Dugong and Turtle Protection Plan through the threatened species process, and work with Indigenous leaders towards an initial two-year moratorium on the taking of dugongs. We have also been encouraged by the work of the Queensland Government in improving water quality, reducing run-off and undertaking a strategic assessment to consolidate port activity, and will continue to work closely with them.
Would you call for a nationwide audit of agricultural and horticultural chemicals so that local councils can tailor their raw and drinking water testing accordingly (please see Barron river fact sheet attached)?
It is not unreasonable to expect a reliable, clean and safe water supply and I was disturbed to read about the levels of pollution reported in the fact sheet. I’m not aware of any commitments in relation to a nationwide audit at this point in time, but a lynchpin of the Coalition’s Plan for a Cleaner Environment is our Clean Water policy, so please be assured that it is on our radar. I believe there should be scope to look to the root of the Barron River pollution problem, and address some of the human impacts that lead to contamination. As an aside, our Green Army program will also be very useful in helping to improve the state of the Barron River and Lake Tinaroo. Young people aged 18-24 years are invited to submit projects that involve cleaning up waterways, revegetation and other environmental conservation remediation work, with funding available after the election. What social justice issue do you intend to focus on if elected? There are a range of issues that require attention in our region. I have long advocated for better resources and support for our mental health service providers, who do an incredible job. I’m 100 per cent committed to DisabilityCare and the Coalition will work hard to ensure that it is properly supported and funded through staged implementation. Youth unemployment in Leichhardt is a major issue, but this can be addressed by improving productivity and reducing red and green tape, as if businesses are given the opportunity to be profitable, then they can grow and take on new staff. Lastly, I will continue to lobby for the removal of legal, social and financial discrimination against the LGBTI community and for a better approach to dealing with the tuberculosis threat on our doorstep.
What do you think is appropriate development in this electorate? Do you support the idea of the proposed megaresort at Yorkey’s Knob?
I think it’s a very good concept, although it’s still in the very early stages. It’s important that we examine the project on its merits and not simply say ‘no’ because it’s something that hasn’t been done before. Undoubtedly, the project will undergo a very stringent environmental impact assessment, and people who are far more qualified than me will make the final decision. I am however always open to opportunities that will create jobs, industry and enable the provision of goods and services. More broadly, the Coalition will remove red tape around the environmental approvals process, maintaining standards but improving the outcomes and reducing the time. We will work with the states and environment groups to ensure sustainable development can occur that does not threaten our goals of clean air, clean water, clean land and improving the health of our native and threatened species.