LISTENING TOUR: Opposition Leader Bill Shorten at last week's town hall meeting.
LISTENING TOUR: Opposition Leader Bill Shorten at last week's town hall meeting. Allan Reinikka ROK210218ashorten

ALP leader Shorten shares his vision for kick starting CQ

OPPOSITION leader Bill Shorten believes there's plenty of exciting prospects for people living in Central Queensland.

On his seventh visit to the region since the last federal election, Mr Shorten said as next Prime Minister he could make sure the region was harnessed by sensible needs-based infrastructure projects.

With his unexpected decision to commit $176million towards the Rookwood Weir and bring the Queensland Government along with his plans, he managed to get the jump on the Federal Government.

"I've just cut through that," Mr Shorten said proudly.

"Bizarrely Canavan, Joyce and Landry, they're so consumed with the soap opera, they had a government spokesperson say they can't even fund it now until April.

"We open up that lower Fitzroy and finally get Rookwood built, then what happens is that's going to provide lots of agricultural jobs and opportunities."

With his $47.5m announcement of the first stage of the Yeppoon-Rockhampton Rd duplication, between Tanby Rd to Limestone, Mr Shorten sought to give the region safer and more efficient transport networks to

give the region scope to grow.

Another big-spending plan of Mr Shorten's was to set aside $25m for the South Rockhampton flood levee, once again getting the jump on the Federal Government to flood-proof a city that had been hammered by floods over the past decade.

"With the levee, the duplication, we're consulting with the Queensland Government on further projects," Mr Shorten said.

"What we'll do will be evidence-based, it will have a clear public benefit, economic benefit and jobs benefit.

"What I won't do is make a promise I don't intend to keep."

He said his newly endorsed candidate for Capricornia, Moranbah coal miner and union leader Russell Robertson was his "point man here".

"Russell's in the great position where we're taking Capricornia very seriously and if he and the people here, the council and everyone else has a clear view on it, and the state government, we'll back it," Mr Shorten said.

"What I won't do is come from my sort of helicopter position in Canberra and just tell local people what they've got to do, I'm not interested in doing that.

"What I am interested in is the stuff which I can influence. It's about people outcomes for me."

Mr Shorten's vision includes wanting to invest more in CQ tourism.

"I'll be happy when we can boost more tourism here, the rest of the world wants to come here," he said.

"You've got Beef Week 2018 coming up, that's great.

"What are the big events and how do we make sure that Rocky's getting its fair share of a growing tourism market?

"We're definitely in the market for good propositions around tourism."

Mr Shorten said education was a priority for Labor and if they were elected, regions like CQ would have properly funded schools and "there'll be more teachers for every school".

He pointed to CQ's excellent higher education facilities and flagged his desire to unleash their potential by investing more and making them more financially accessible.

"There's no doubt that we've got to keep the cost of going to uni down," Mr Shorten said.

"Regional universities have been hard hit, I can say we'll reverse some of the cuts, we're going to change the direction.

"One of the things we are doing for the young people in the region and their families is we're successfully opposing the increase in interest rate that the government wanted to levy on your HECS fee.

"We're successfully arguing in the senate that they shouldn't increase or lower the threshold when you have to start repaying uni debts."

He intended to increase the cost of temporary visas to employers and to funnel that money back into Tafe training to tackle skill shortages by boosting apprentice numbers.

"We have said that we'll increase the 457 visas, at the moment the government said they're $575 per year to get one, for an employer that's $10 per week, we said it should be $1600 or $1700 and all that money goes straight back into training locals.

"We'll set up a $100m regional Tafe fund.

"How can I make those promises? Because I'm not going ahead with the corporate tax cuts at the big end, the multinationals and the large companies."


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