Pollies at all levels to face pressure in 2014

FRASER Coast politicians will be judged heavily at all three levels as 2014 rolls on.

The new year will usher in at least two major business-related policies from Fraser Coast Council, electricity price hikes, tough new laws and potential privatisation at a state level, and much-promised road upgrades from the Federal Government.

A new final planning scheme from Fraser Coast Council is expected to gain approval from the State Government and come into effect early this year.

The scheme was sent for approval in September and has yet to be released to the public, but councillors have said controversial proposals such as rezoning commercial areas to residential were reversed in the draft stage.

It is expected to still include changes that would allow buildings up to eight storeys high along the Hervey Bay foreshore and a reduced ability for the public to comment on some developments.

"I don't agree with taking away people's rights from the communities," Deputy Mayor George Seymour told a council meeting in September.

"It will do that by moving away from impact assessable to code assessable in a number of types of developments."

The introduction of the scheme is expected to coincide with the first stages of the Imagine This City strategy, which aims to shape the next five years in the Maryborough CBD.

This year will be the last one for the current LNP State Government before it faces the next election by June 20, 2015.

The state agenda due to affect the Fraser Coast includes predicted major hikes in electricity prices for regional customers and the continued possibility of privatised services.

The draft recommendation released this month could lift power prices by more than 13%. However, the final price rise will not be determined until the end of May.

State-owned provider Ergon has committed to finding ways to reduce the impact on consumers.

On a federal level, Wide Bay MP Warren Truss and Hinkler MP Keith Pitt have been called on by Chronicle readers to live up to promises made before September's election.

This includes $4.75 million funding to help upgrade Old Toogoom Rd and River Heads Rd.

Voters will look for much-promised work to begin on the Fraser Coast stretch of the Bruce Hwy.

In June 2013 as shadow minister for infrastructure, Mr Truss said a Coalition government would commit funding to three projects on the Fraser Coast stretch alone at an estimated cost of $248 million.

This includes a new Tinana interchange to link the Maryborough-Hervey Bay Rd and the Bruce Hwy, two new bridges at Tiaro and upgrading the Saltwater Creek crossing at Aldershot.

"The Bruce Highway is one of the most treacherous roads in Australia," he said at the time in a joint statement with then opposition leader Tony Abbott.

He gave no time frame for the Fraser Coast projects and has not done so since being named Minister for Infrastructure and Deputy Prime Minister.

In late December, Mr Truss said forward estimates released as part of the Mid Year Economic Fiscal Outlook committed to more than $2.2 billion worth of road projects in Wide Bay.