Premier Campbell Newman has addressed some of the concerns of Mackay region residents.
Premier Campbell Newman has addressed some of the concerns of Mackay region residents. Apn Photo Library

Premier speaks on key issues

A recent Galaxy Poll has shown two out of every three Queenslanders believe Campbell Newman has gone too far with public sector job cuts. With his public support dropping, the Daily Mercury caught up with the Premier to see how he felt about some of the big issues affecting Central Queensland.

Q. Recently, $2.3 million was announced to fix Sarina Hospital. With anti-Newman sentiment running high amongst Queensland's public health workers, how will this influence how you and your government are perceived in the local area?

A. Queenslanders understand the importance of reining in Labor's debt, and the Government is focused on getting the State back on track so it can provide high quality services in regional areas. Rather than ignoring the critical infrastructure needs of rural and regional Queenslanders as Labor did, the LNP Government will make sure communities like Sarina benefit from sound economic management.

Q. Nearly a month after you announced BreastScreen Queensland would be retained, there are still accusations from unions and the opposition that the service will soon experience funding cuts. Can you give women in Mackay an answer on how, if at all, BreastScreen services will change?

A. I can reassure the women of the Mackay region that the consistency of quality of BreastScreen Queensland services will be maintained through state level oversight to make sure national cancer screening standards, clinical guidelines and national policies are met. BreastScreen Queensland services will be delivered locally by Hospital and Health Services, in accordance with a statewide plan which has been in place for 20 years. In fact, under the LNP Government, Queensland Health is currently upgrading 17 existing mammography units, as well as expanding upon existing services.

Q. With BHP announcing the delay of a planned expansion of its Peak Downs Mine and Rio Tinto closing its Blair Athol mine prior to schedule, the region's mining industry seems to be slowing down. What moves will the government be making to soften the blow in the Bowen Basin?

A. The government is actively working to encourage investment in, and the development of, the resources industry. That will be helped by two Bills recently passed in Parliament which will cut red tape for resource projects - the Greentape Reduction Bill and the Streamlining Bill. The changes contained in these Bills will cut the time taken for resource projects to be approved, but will not dilute the rigorous environmental assessment process for potential development. The Government will continue to prioritise the needs of the Bowen Basin through the Central Queensland Resources Supply Chain project, which will identify infrastructure needs to promote ongoing development and growth in the region along the resources supply chain. The government has also launched a number of programs to support mining towns and communities, including the $495 million Royalties for the Regions scheme, Statutory Regional Plans and land releases near mining town to support new housing developments.

Q. Environmentalists have criticised the Federal Government's approval of the Alpha Coal Mine in the Galilee Basin, saying it will cause destruction to the Great Barrier Reef. On a state level, what guarantee can the government give that this mine will not impact on industries that rely on the reef, as well as the health of the reef itself?

A. The LNP Government cares greatly for the Great Barrier Reef and is committed to protecting it for future generations. In terms of environmental conditions attached to the development of the Alpha project, the Queensland Coordinator-General's approval report set out 128 conditions which included sufficient safeguards and mitigation measures to prevent any negative impacts on the Great Barrier Reef.

Q. The Australian Agricultural College Corporation was recently given dire predictions for its financial future. What steps will the government be making to ensure training centres are not shut down?

A. Agricultural training must, and will, continue throughout Queensland in a cost-effective and realistic manner. The government is committed to delivering effective training for people pursuing careers in agriculture and all relevant Ministers will work closely to find the best option for agriculture colleges. The government will also work with peak farm bodies, TAFE and the Education Department to deliver effective training for people pursuing careers in agriculture in Queensland.

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