The Gladstone Future CQ Breakfast was held at Yaralla Sports Club on 20 March 2019.
The Gladstone Future CQ Breakfast was held at Yaralla Sports Club on 20 March 2019. Matt Taylor GLA200319FCQB

Does election money match community leaders' wish lists?

WITH Gladstone among the key battlegrounds for the Federal Election, already residents have seen money promised for various projects.

But are these election promises what some of our business, political, educational and community leaders want?

With the focus on creating a thriving and sustainable community, five business, political and community leaders shared their "wish lists" ahead of the May 18 Federal Election.

Speaking at the FutureCQ forum last month, the panel - Gladstone Industry Leadership Group's Patrick Hastings, Gladstone Region mayor Matt Burnett, CQUniversity associate vice-chancellor Gladstone Owen Nevin and Roseberry Queensland's Colleen Tribe - were asked what do you want the Federal Government to deliver for Gladstone?

Mental health services, extending the inland rail to Gladstone, an upgrade to Marley Brown Oval, investment in environmental research and reliable and affordable electricity were among the top of their lists.

Mr Hastings said on top of his list would be reliable electricity to allow Gladstone industries to grow.

He said there was also a need for funding for health services - in particular after the closure of Gladstone Mater's maternity service.

"If Gladstone's really going to be an industrial hub and central point of growth, we need to address the gaps in our health services," he said.

Ms Tribe echoed his concerns and added existing mental health services were struggling to keep up with demand in Gladstone.

"Domestic and family violence and poverty all stem from one factor and that's mental health," she said.

"We need more services available for community members that can support them for a longer period than they are now."

Already health has been identified as a key election issue, with Labor and the Liberal National Party promising health spending in the Gladstone region.

Both parties committed to building a cancer treatment centre in Gladstone to offer radiation therapy.

Meanwhile Labor has promised to spend $15 million to buy Gladstone Mater for the Queensland Government to manage and maintain.

Cr Burnett said the most expensive project that he thought would benefit the region most would be an extension of the Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail to Gladstone.

Extending the inland rail to Gladstone has been touted before, including by the Gladstone Ports Corporation, because it's believed it would help the region grow its exports and imports.

However it was revealed in January by The Observer the results of a $250,000 Federal Government feasibility study did not support extending the rail link to Gladstone.

But some residents are sceptical of the findings, because the report has never been made public.

Cr Burnett said the region also needed funding for an upgrade to Marley Brown Oval, and rail links to the inland port project at Central Highlands.

He said the Federal Government should commit funding to complete stage two of Gladstone Port Access Rd.

Since the FutureCQ forum Labor and LNP have promised $100 million towards the project.

Amid ongoing development within the Gladstone region, Professor Owen Nevin said it was important to have appropriate measures in place to protect the environment.

He said there was a need for increased environmental research to ensure future development does not harm the region's waterways.

"I would want to see growth in our ability to support and understand the environmental impact on all forms of industrial development," he said.

"Most of us live on that coastal margin, Gladstone is built around the port and all development will be built (near the coast).

"The growth will happen ... what we need to do is understand how to do that in an environmentally sound way."

FutureCQ aimed to start a conversation, guided by insights from leading demographer Bernard Salt, about how to create a prosperous region.

Mr Salt's analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics data estimated Gladstone's population will increase by only two percent by 2030.

He said it was not too late for the region to make changes to help increase its population further.



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