Member challenges government to address today's issues
MEMBER for Noosa Sandy Bolton is challenging the State Government to address current issues including managing infrastructure and facilities before focusing on regional growth.
In addressing Queensland Parliament with her budget reply speech, Ms Bolton urged the State Government to ensure the Coast's long term sustainability by looking to address and solve the issues of today, before moving to additional growth focused and expansionary programs and projects, that are likely to create a new set of potential problems.
"Protecting and guiding Queensland's economic growth is essential, however it is important that it is done in a logical way that looks to the future,” she said.
"There is a question that needs to be answered. Is our economic future dependent on continually increasing population?”
While commending the Government on its difficult task of bringing down the State Budget, Ms Bolton was mindful of highlighting some of the key messages resonating through her from both Noosa and broader Queensland relating to sustainability and affordability.
"We cannot sustainably fund new infrastructure if those assets we already have are not being maintained and operated efficiently, as these new projects may succumb to the same fate, unless we have a strategy that is not heavily reliant on population growth,” she said.
"And how do we manage and reduce our increasing debt. What are the strategies and how are we going to get back our AAA rating? There needs to be some assurance around this, and how in the face of another global crisis, Queenslander will fare.”
The Noosa MP referred to 'big ticket' local items that remain a key focus and long overdue for attention in her own electorate.
"We have been advised that the Beckman's Road Upgrade will be staged and funded from the 'unallocated' bucket within TMR, with a bid in for Stage 1 which is the Cooroy Noosa end roundabout, which is great news,” Ms Bolton said.
"The upgrade/replacement of the Six Mile Bridge (#7) is the remaining concern, and we continue to lobby to get this prioritised, as well question the methodology utilised in prioritising projects and its role in accident prevention.
"In the meantime, the focus is to urgently address greater safety on this dangerous bridge, and we are waiting on a response to our latest recommendations to do this.”
With the Noosa electorate happily not aspiring to grow in numbers, the search within the budget for Ms Bolton was for increases in the area of maintaining, sustaining and improving the services and facilities that we already have.
"It was good to see funding of works for our schools, sports facilities and National Parks, as well commitments to our grass roots organisations including United Synergies, plus the opportunities offered through increases in grants including Building the Regions,” she said.
"However, the 'devil' is in the detail and I look forward to unpacking these during Estimates to identify any areas not covered.”
Other areas that Ms Bolton identified that effected not only the Noosa electorate but also wider Queensland, were in the area of health services and where she challenged the Government to look beyond the big hospitals and cities, to how money could be better invested and utilised to accommodate the pressing needs of those living in rural and regional areas.
"Within the Noosa hinterland, we have been desperate to fill GP positions, and more for home doctor services that are currently absent in servicing our areas,” she said.
"As identified, there is often nowhere to go to be seen after hours. Not only does this increase the strain on our emergency departments, it costs significantly more for the Government.
"When a patient is seen at a bulk billing doctor's surgery, it costs $37 to the tax payer. When seen in a casualty or emergency room, it costs $507. Do the math.”
Ms Bolton also linked similar examples in her reply speech that related to unrealised, underutilised or the inefficient allocation of resources and spending relating to prisons and incarceration, schools and education, sporting and community facilities, research and unused strategies and responses that the taxpayer has paid for.
"To continuously build does not make sense in a world where we are seeking to renew, re-purpose and recycle,” she said.
"To keep adding to our debt without considering how to better use what we already have, diminish demand through greater education, opportunity, self-responsibility and accountability, and change how we are perceiving the world, is a no win situation; especially when we are unable to adequately maintain our existing infrastructure.”
The Noosa MP was happy to see increases in a number on arenas that she has been advocating for including QCAT, QBCC and other resolution agencies that were overloaded and had seen long delays for constituents, however had not found as yet increases for Community Legal Services.
Extra funding for grass roots organisations delivering essential front line services including to the growing numbers of homelessness, and our alarming abuse statistics - physical and otherwise, was recognised, however she highlighted the growing frustration around homelessness, particularly around the challenges in developing affordable accommodations, including co-housing in the Noosa electorate.
"Having listened to both sides during budget in reply speeches, one can understand why there is little trust in us and our systems,” Ms Bolton said.
"As an Independent MP, I seek to objectively research and consult, and am respectful to all.
"Credibility is very important, and I bring forward the thoughts and concerns of my community and the broader Queensland, without engaging in denigration of others or their efforts.”
In finishing her budget reply speech, Ms Bolton again acknowledged the efforts of the Government and all who have worked so hard on preparing it, however she reminded the Parliament that unless we listen more closely to what our regions, communities and constituents seek, and unless we are honest and speak plain English on what sustainability means, we will continue to provide band-aids.
She hoped that in the next 12 months that both sides of the Chamber would have an open and honest look at what is transpiring, and focus not on 'politicking', instead on what is essential for the wellbeing of Queenslanders, and their future.