14 October 2017

Every day last week, in the lead up to the National Labor Country Forum, Labor Shadow Ministers spent time in Rockhampton and Central Queensland.

Day in, day out, we met with small businesses, community organisations and locals to discuss important issues ranging from health to tourism infrastructure to secure jobs and agriculture investment.

Rockhampton was a deliberate choice to hold our forum because unlike the LNP, Labor doesn't take Central Queensland for granted. We spend time on the ground, listening and learning from locals, and then delivering the policies that will make a positive difference in their lives.

And we put our money where our mouth is.                                    

When I was up here in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie - I was in awe of the courage and community on display.

I asked the community what they needed from Canberra. They said the flood levee needed to be built.    

So a new Labor Government will provide $25 million to build a new flood levee for Rocky and create local jobs.

The levee will protect an additional 1200 properties from flood - and it will also save Rocky locals up to $400 a year on their insurance premiums.

It's not rocket science.

You listen to locals, they tell you what needs doing, and you do it.

But six months on, and at the start of another storm season, the LNP in Canberra is not doing their bit.

All local LNP Member Michelle Landry can offer is yet another survey.

So our message is crystal clear: stop delaying, start delivering.

I've written to Turnbull again and again asking him to reconsider his decision and match state funding for disaster relief works Rocky deserves that.

And if Turnbull won't get it done, I will.             

The levee builds on plans we've already announced including: Investing in training and skills by backing public TAFE.

Making sure one in 10 workers on major Commonwealth-funded infrastructure projects are apprentices.

Protecting penalty rates.

And committing $1 billion from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund for expanding local tourism across the region, creating jobs.

Labor believes in a fair go all round.

And your postcode should not pre-determine your destiny.

Because living in the regions, shouldn't mean a lesser standard of living. It shouldn't mean a second-rate NBN or lower wages. It shouldn't mean waiting longer and paying more for your healthcare and it certainly shouldn't mean leaving town just to find a decent job.

A new Labor Government will provide $25m to build a new flood levee for Rocky.

And young people in Rocky should have the same chance at success as kids in Brisbane.

Labor's week in Rockhampton was not a one off. It shows Labor's commitment to rural and regional Australia. I've been here four times since the last election, and I'll keep coming back.

Because the people who know what's best for the suburbs and regional towns of Australia aren't in Canberra.

They're in places like Rocky.

This opinion piece was first published in the Bulletin on Saturday, 14 October 2017.