The upgrade to Maryborough Hospital's emergency department is one of Bruce Saunders' top priorities.
The upgrade to Maryborough Hospital's emergency department is one of Bruce Saunders' top priorities. Jocelyn Watts

Fraser Coast leaders name top priorities for next year

THE Fraser Coast's political representatives have named their top priorities as they look to the New Year.

It promises to be a fruitful year ahead for the Fraser Coast, with a promised upgrade for Maryborough Hospital in the works, another upgrade for the Bruce Highway, the scuttling of the Tobruk and the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

NDIS and bringing in Cashless Debit Card

FROM the scuttling of the ex-HMAS Tobruk to the planned rollout of the Cashless Debit Card and the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said he will have several priorities in the new year.

"There is a lot happening in the Hinkler electorate in 2018," he said.

"Ex-HMAS Tobruk is expected to be scuttled mid-year, which will be an international event, attracting tourists from around the world.

"When ex-HMAS Adelaide was scuttled it attracted 30,000 visitors to see the ship sunk.

"When Tobruk is established as a dive wreck it will not only boost tourism numbers but lead to more jobs in the local tourism industry.

The rollout of the controversial Cashless Debit Card is expected to begin in the first half of the year.

"I look forward to seeing the results from the decentralisation inquiry as I believe people in regional areas should have the same opportunities as anyone who lives in the cities.

"The relocation of a government department would be an important boost in jobs and the economy for any regional area.

"The NDIS will begin in the Fraser Coast area from July 1, 2018, bringing a significant change for people with disability and the disability services sector.

"The NDIS will not only benefit the participants, it will create between 850-1500 jobs in the Fraser Coast area."

Mr Pitt said addressing people's concerns regarding aged care is at the top of his list next year.

"I have been approached by families and service providers about concerns in the aged care sector, in particular delays in ACAT assessments and aged care packages becoming available.

"I have spoken with Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt as recently as last week, but the responsibility for carrying out ACAT assessments is a State Government one and I will continue to fight for improvements with these processes.

"Our elderly should be looked after and while encouraging them to stay at home as long as possible, the necessary support must be available."

"I call on the Palaszczuk Government to ensure this matter gets the urgent attention it deserves."

Mr Pitt said he was looking forward to the delivery of several new projects in 2018.

"Throughout 2018 there will be various Stronger Communities projects announced and getting underway, such as the Hervey Bay and District Tennis Association, which received funding to resurface its carpark to make it safer for not only players, but to also make it accessible for wheelchairs.

"I'm also excited to see how plans for the Tobruk Museum and Fishing Hall of Fame progress next year."

Bruce Highway and water security

FEDERAL member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien says one of his biggest ongoing priorities is to work with Transport Minister Darren Chester to secure funding for Section D of the Bruce Highway upgrade.

Section D will provide a significant boost for people travelling between the Fraser Coast and Sunshine Coast and Brisbane, by delivering a safer, high speed, high capacity, less flood-prone highway that skirts around Gympie.

"As well as making the highway significantly safer, it will also increase the productive capacity of the Wide Bay economy by supporting the more efficient movement of freight and enable cars and trucks to keep moving when the Mary River floods," Mr O'Brien said.

"The Federal Coalition Government has already invested more than $40 million in acquisitions, detailed design and planning work to enable the Section D project to proceed."

Now that Section C of the highway, from Traveston to Woondum is almost complete, Mr O'Brien said it would make sense for the Federal Government to consider the next stage, Section D, once the Queensland Government submits its detailed design and costing report, to finish the job.

Another top priority for Mr O'Brien will be working with Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce to secure funding to improve water security for Maryborough's sugar industry.

"Water security is essential to the wider community in the Wide Bay, and particularly to the viability of the sugar industry, which is one of the region's key economic drivers," he said.

"Improved water security will assist in the consistent production of reliable crops, and in urban and commercial development within the Wide Bay region, which will provide flow-on benefits in terms of job creation and economic growth."

Hospital upgrade tops priority list

NAMING just one priority for the new year was a tough task for re-elected Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders.

Instead he named a handful of promises he is determined to deliver for his electorate, starting with the $10 million upgrade of Maryborough Hospital's emergency department.

Building trains in Maryborough would also be an election promise he would be ensuring was carried out, he said.

He said job creation, health and housing were at the top of his list when he looked toward 2018.

"We want to continue as we've continued for the pass 33 months," he said.

He said the upgrade to Maryborough Hospital would be the first priority for the city.

In addition, the $10 million upgrade promised at Maryborough State High School was also near the top of his list, as well as upgrades at other schools

Mr Saunders said he would be having a few days off over the festive season before getting back to work in early 2018.

"It doesn't stop - the wheels of government doesn't stop," he said.

Work at Maryborough's Eskdale Park was also on Mr Saunders' mind, as well as funding for Riding for the Disabled and an upgrade for Maryborough's netball courts.

Hervey Bay MP Ted Sorensen was approached by the Chronicle to outline his priorities for 2018, however declined to respond.