• Campaign on Country of Origin labelling kicks off

    The Federal Government’s country of origin labelling for food campaign, which was announced yesterday by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Hon Barnaby Joyce MP and Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Senator the Hon Arthur Sinodinos, is a welcome move. This new food labelling system which came into effect last year supports Aussie producers and Aussie jobs, and it’s what the Australian consumer wanted. It’s important now for the government to get out there and let people know what the new labels mean.
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  • Who should call North Queensland home?

    21 APRIL 2017: Decentralising government can bring a lot of benefits if it is managed well so I’m asking North Queenslanders to help identify the best options and then I can lobby for North Queensland to be a beneficiary of the Liberal National Government’s decentralisation push.
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  • Ayr school scores $19,000 for digital teaching tools

    20 APRIL 2017: Ayr State Primary School is set to engage in some digital technology education with cutting edge tools as part of a nation-wide digital literacy program run by the Liberal National Government. The school will receive $19,065 through the Digital Literacy School Grants Program.
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  • Scrapping 457 visas puts Aussie workers first

    19 APRIL 2017: The Liberal National Government’s scrapping of the 457 visa program is a massive win for Australian workers. In November last year, I called for a complete ban of 457 visas in North Queensland because Australian workers here could not find jobs. Now that the entire program has been scrapped nationwide, that’s even better.
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  • Insurance forum for cyclone-affected

    19 APRIL 2017: Cyclone-affected insurance policy holders can attend a forum in Mackay to meet with key insurance companies, Legal Aid, and the Insurance Council of Australia. The forums will be held in Mackay on May 1 and Proserpine on May 2.
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  • Jobs flow from new overlaking lanes

    12 APRIL 2017: MORE overtaking lanes are in place along the Bruce Highway, with two new sections opening between Proserpine and Bowen three months ahead of schedule. Completion of the overtaking lanes near Dingo and Emu Creeks – funded as part of the Coalition’s record $50 billion infrastructure investment programme – highlighted the government’s drive to improve safety and efficiency on the Bruce Highway.
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  • Debbie donations deductible

    12 APRIL 2017: Donations made to Australian disaster relief funds in the wake of Cyclone Debbie will be tax deductible after the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Kelly O’Dwyer, declared Tropical Cyclone Debbie and associated rainfall and flooding a disaster for the purposes of establishing Australian disaster relief funds.
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  • Foreign aid an insult to victims of Debbie

    7 APRIL 2017: NORTH Queensland cyclone victims are struggling to access government payments while billions of dollars are being sent overseas. Today Icalled for a halt to all foreign aid while the nation is struggling to deal with its own domestic disaster.
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  • Severely affected Mackay residents now eligible for more assistance

    A request to the Federal Minister for Justice to allowed severely affected residents in the Mackay Local Government Area to be eligible for Disaster Recovery Payments and the Disaster Recovery Allowance was granted within 24 hours. This morning the Minister for Justice Michael Keenan has announced that Mackay has now been included in the local government areas which are eligible for this Australian Government assistance. I raised this with the Minister on Monday when he was in the Whitsundays, we followed up by letter yesterday and had word late yesterday that Minister Keenan had activated it. These payments are for people who have been severely affected by cyclone and flooding events, and though that’s a relatively small number in the Mackay local government area, the effects on them are devastating.
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  • Action needed on grants for farmers

    WITH the sugar industry facing tonnage losses of between 20 and 40 per cent across the Proserpine, Mackay and Plane Creek districts, as well as Bowen district vegetable growers estimating a $100 million loss, I’m urging the State Government to lodge the request for the next level of NDRRA funding. This would provide primary producers with individual grants of between $10,000 and $25,000 to aid their recovery from Cyclone Debbie damage. Although the assessment of crop damage is still ongoing, some growers in the hardest hit areas of Proserpine have losses of 50 per cent of their crop, and in Mackay and Plane Creek the damage is extensive with estimates of losses of 20 per cent.
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  • Financial help at hand for farmers and small biz owners

    A NUMBER of assistance measures have been made available for small businesses, primary producers and non-profit organisations following Cyclone Debbie, and the assessment of the impact is still ongoing. Small business owners, primary producers and those operating non-profit organisations in both the Mackay and Whitsunday local government areas are eligible for concessional interest rates loans for direct damage of up to $250,000 to repair or replace damaged plant, equipment and buildings as well as replace stock. These are offered at an interest rate of 1.16% and no other fees apply.
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  • Assistance for the people of Mackay and Whitsundays

    A number of assistance measures have now been announced for Mackay and Whitsunday Regional Councils by the Federal Minister for Justice Michael Keenan and Queensland Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services Mark Ryan. These include: •Immediate assistance for individuals and families facing personal hardship and distress, so that those people can cover emergency needs such as food, clothing, accommodation and essential repairs.
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  • I have just been advised by the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) that they have declared a catastrophe event for the damage caused by Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie. As a result of that declaration the Insurance Taskforce, comprising all insurers with a claims footprint, has been established, to address and identify any issues that arise. The declaration also means residents of the north can access ICA’s disaster hotline which is now taking calls on 1800 734 621. Please note however that this line is for people with questions or who have lost documentation, not for lodging claims, nor for queries regarding government assistance.
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  • Insurers stand ready to assist

    I’VE held discussions with the Insurance Council of Australia, as well as one of Queensland’s largest insurers Suncorp, today to discuss assistance measures for people dealing with the after-effects of cyclone and storm surge damage. Suncorp have advised me that they have teams on standby to be deployed on the ground and they are gearing up their call centre capacity to take higher numbers of claim calls in the wake of Cyclone Debbie. While we have to await the outcome of Cyclone Debbie to see just what the extent of the damage is to homes and businesses and crops in the Mackay, Whitsundays, Bowen and Burdekin regions, the Insurance Council of Australia can also declare what they call an ‘insurance catastrophe’ depending on the number of people impacted.
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  • Navy and Airforce ready to help the north

    The deployment of the Defence Force’s humanitarian aid ship to the region as well as Navy and Airforce helicopters and planes on standby are some of the latest measures being taken to ensure a rapid response to Cyclone Debbie for residents of North and Central Queensland. I have just received the latest advice from the Minister for Defence Marise Payne and the Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, on preparations being taken at a Federal Government level to provide assistance to communities which may be impacted by Cyclone Debbie. He has advised that Defence is ready and able to respond and support local emergency authorities and the people of the affected area between Townsville and Mackay. As a precaution, HMAS Choules, the nominated HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief) ship, departed Sydney this morning and is heading north to Queensland to be ready to support recovery efforts if needed.
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  • Helping kids with Anzac Day history

    Schools throughout the region will receive books and posters to educate students about Australia’s wartime history and commemorate Anzac Day. It is important that every generation understands the costs and impacts of war, both on the battlefield and at home. To help with that, the Coalition Government is providing schools will two books: Decision: Stories of leadership in the services about the influence of Australian leaders during wartime and A Bitter Fate: Australians in Malaya and Singapore, December 1941 – February 1942. The books explore the stories of individuals who made decisions that saved lives and influenced the outcomes of battles and wars.
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  • Funds for bridges on offer

    Councils throughout the region have the chance to get local bridges in poor condition fixed with the help of direct funding from the Federal Government with the commencement of a new round of funding under the $360 million Bridges Renewal Programme. This is a great opportunity for state, territory and local governments to apply for funding to have ageing bridges fixed, with up to half the cost met by the Australian Government. This will be the third round of funding under the programme, which is continuing to keep communities connected and local industries profitable. Our councils can get on board by nominating local bridges that need upgrading or replacement. Residents who might like to put forward their ideas should get in touch with their Council to find out about any plans they have to nominate local bridges, or put forward suggestions.
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  • Elitists try to write off jobs in the North

    The elitists are trying to write off jobs for struggling unemployed Central Queenslanders and North Queenslanders with their letter to Gautam Adani opposing the Carmichael Mine. Styling themselves as ‘prominent Australians’, these elitist wankers include investment bankers, CEOs of major corporations such as Telstra, pretentious literati, professional activists and has-been celebrities. I’d love for just one of them to come down to the Larrikin Hotel in Bowen and explain to the locals there who have been suffering from a stalled economy for years on end, why they think the jobs from the Carmichael Mine and Abbot Point coal port expansion should not be created.
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  • Tourism numbers for region on the rise

    We know it’s beautiful one day, perfect the next in Mackay and the Whitsundays, and others are working that out too. The latest latest tourism data released today shows an increase of 11 per cent in international visitor numbers to Mackay in the last 12 months, and an increase of 19 per cent in international visitor numbers for the Whitsundays. Mackay welcomed 47,000 international visitors in 2016 and they injected $31 million into the economy. The Whitsundays welcomed 248,000 international visitors in that timeframe and they spent $204 million in the region.
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  • Adani wants Mackay workers in jobs mix

    I’ve come away from a meeting with Adani representatives in Brisbane this morning heartened by assurances that up to 1000 jobs will come on line by mid-year and Mackay workers will be actively encouraged to apply. There are 1000 jobs in the mix as Adani moves into pre-construction work later this year and these jobs will be advertised directly in Mackay as well as regionally, and Mackay workers will be encouraged to apply for these jobs. I met with a key spokesperson for Adani in Brisbane this morning to lobby them for a greater commitment to assist Mackay regional residents being to apply for positions that may become available with their mine and associated works. These jobs will be in fields such as earthworks, fencing, building dams; all that is required for setting up the basic infrastructure for the mine site. There will also be construction jobs associated with the rail line from the Galilee Basin mine to the port of Abbot Point. These construction jobs will go on for two and a half years, so the employment prospects for workers are imminent and significant.
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  • Sugar industry needs rule book

    THE sudden collapse of arbitration between Burdekin District Cane Growers Limited (BDCG) and Wilmar Sugar has provided further proof of the need for Federal intervention via a Mandatory Code of Conduct. What the industry needs is a rule book and I’m determined to provide it. The arbitration process, which has ended, came about as a result of amendments to the Queensland Sugar Industry Act which was pushed through State Parliament by the LNP and Katter’s Australia Party in 2015. While the Queensland Sugar Industry Act amendments were initially welcomed, the reality is that now they are near-useless, meaning federally something will have to be done.
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  • Helping more young people into work

    8 March 2017: The Australian Government has today announced the organisations that were successful in their applications to deliver the second round of Empowering YOUth Initiatives and Headspace, with centre… read more →
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  • Helping women get into work

    With today marking International Women’s Day, I welcome the expansion of a successful employment partnership between the Coalition Government and UnitingCare Australia to deliver meaningful pre-employment training to women looking to engage in the workforce. Over the past year, 31 women have participated in three pilot projects in Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia with each pilot project achieving close to a 100 per cent completion rate. For many of the women, being out of work had impacted on their confidence, however the transformation from these pilot programs has been remarkable. Due to the success of this partnership, the Coalition Government has committed $10 million over the next three years to the new ‘Launch into Work’ program, which will commence later this year.
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  • Surf club election pledge takes shape

    WORK to fulfill an election commitment to the Eimeo Surf Life Saving Club will soon get under way, with the end result of an upgraded premises with a dedicated first aid room and training facility. I was happy to make the commitment in June last year that a re-elected Liberal National Government would provide $100,000 for this upgrade. The club’s president Bill Landsbury and vice president Duncan Sanderson told me they hope to have it up and running by the end of April.
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  • Childcare centre boosts service with solar

    A Mackay childcare centre expects to halve its energy costs thanks to a boost from the Stronger Communities Programme. I congratulated C&K Mackay Children and Family Centre’s family support officer Lionel Hardiman, back, and director Tineke Philip on a successful grant of $14,877 for a newly-installed energy-saving solar panel system.
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  • Support for state action on sugar

    I congratulate the Queensland LNP on taking decisive action to end the impasse over sugar marketing which is crippling the sugar industry in the north. My Federal colleagues and I… read more →
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  • Defending free speech

    13 FEBRUARY 2017: I spoke in defence of free speech at a fundraiser on Friday night. You can read the speech here or link to the video.
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  • Native Title Act concerns will not halt Adani

    FEBRUARY 13, 2017: CHANGES to the Native Title Act will be introduced into the Federal Parliament this week to ensure there are no impacts on the Adani Carmichael Coal Project.… read more →
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  • Step closer to $30 million jobs package

    FEBRUARY 13, 2017: THE local committee which will identify the best priorities for a $30 million jobs and investment boost for the region has been announced by the Minister for Regional… read more →
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  • Support and ovarian cancer treatments needed

    8 FEBRUARY 2017: I want people diagnosed with ovarian cancer and their families to get the support they need and I will be advocating on their behalf for the funding that can improve quality of life and help to extend life. I will be facilitating meetings with the Primary Health Network and also the Mackay Hospitals and Health Service to see what funding might be available for a support network in North Queensland.
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