Time for talk about the Hinkler Regional Deal is over

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Hinkler Regional Deal is an absolute game-changer for the Bundaberg region.

This time last year, the Federal Government announced the deal, worth a whopping $173 million – the most significant government investment our region has seen in a very, very long time.

Our Regional Deal is the first of its kind, designed to create a platform where all levels of government can readily work together to deliver important infrastructure projects, creating jobs and boosting the local economy along the way.

Bundaberg is bursting with opportunity and a coordinated government approach is exactly what we need to help us progress into the future with flying colours.

When the deal was announced, everything was smooth sailing. The State Government, Fraser Coast Regional Council and Bundaberg Regional Council all showed their unreserved interest and support. This was, right up until the signing of the papers.

On that day, 26 March 2019, Queensland Treasurer Jackie Trad unexpectedly withdrew the State’s support, suddenly claiming that Maryborough would “miss out”.

Ever since, our community has banded together to call for the State Government’s commitment in order to allow funding to be spent and projects to progress but despite tremendous efforts, there is still no commitment from the State Government.

Just last week in Queensland Parliament, the Premier outlined a handful of state funded projects within the Maryborough area, amounting to more than $127 million. A figure substantially more than the state’s contribution to the Bundaberg region for the Hinkler Regional Deal. But, regardless of this, the Treasurer interjected to voice her belief that Maryborough still needs to be included.

Flashforward to this week, the Treasurer accepted an invitation to meet with our local chamber of commerce to discuss the deal. Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, the visit didn’t result in anything new and the deal remains unsigned, simply leaving us with a statement saying she will head back to Brisbane and do her “homework”.

The State Government’s reasoning for refusing to get onboard is truly questionable. Not only does Maryborough have an abundance of state funding pouring in and visits from the Premier and Cabinet confirmed, it’s residents will directly benefit from the Hinkler Regional Deal in its current form, with projects in the Maryborough electorate already included, as well as more than $49 million worth of funding provided by the Federal Government in the past year.

The Treasurer has had 12 months to do her homework. The time for talk is over. The State Government needs to come to the table and sign the Hinkler Regional Deal – just as our region undoubtedly deserves.

Saturday, November 2 2019

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