CANDIDATES Q&A: Challengers for the role of mayor and councillors in Rockhampton Regional Council were questioned about their priority issue for the region.
CANDIDATES Q&A: Challengers for the role of mayor and councillors in Rockhampton Regional Council were questioned about their priority issue for the region.

Rocky candidates’ plans for airport and boosting tourism

THERE is only one day remaining in the 2020 Local Government Election campaign and we've quizzed the contenders for the roles of mayor and councillors in Rockhampton Regional Council on the following question:

"How would you improve the Rockhampton airport and boost tourism to the region?"

Obviously this question would only apply once the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic passes.


Mayoral candidate: Chris Hooper

Mayoral Candidate Chris Hooper. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin
Mayoral Candidate Chris Hooper. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin

With the virus and the collapse of global tourism, I think eco-tourism would be the way to go for adaption.

Walking and pushbike tracks linked with small gauge rail over the Berserkers to Yeppoon, Emu Park and Great Keppel Island (tent city) would be good.

Walking tracks to the Golden Mount connecting to the national trail is also a goer.

The train to Winton was the lifeblood to the west which made Rocky wealthy and also brought the people into Rocky and Yeppoon for holidays and business.


Mayoral candidate: Margaret Strelow

Mayoral candidate Margaret Strelow
Mayoral candidate Margaret Strelow

We are planning a significant but staged development at the airport as well which will both incorporate the security upgrades required but will also set the airport terminal up for the next stage of its growth.

We have developed some excellent marketing materials. The Fishing the Fitzroy campaign for example has shown that Rockhampton Regional Council and Advance Rockhampton have runs on the board promoting our region.

We are currently working on additional marketing material and a new website.

I'm particularly keen to ensure there is a renewed focus on Mount Morgan as a tourism destination (the dinosaur caves are a key part of this).


Division 1: Sherrie Ashton

Division 1 candidate Sherrie Ashton.
Division 1 candidate Sherrie Ashton.

RRC should work with all of the major tourist attractions in CQ being Dreamtime Cultural Centre, The Heritage Village, The Caves, Koorana and GKI to promote to international and interstate tourists.

Recognising that not all attractions are in the Rocky Regional Council area, the benefit in partnering directly with the operators, will assist us all.

Dreamtime Cultural Centre is of special importance. We have one of the highest percentage of indigenous populations in the state. It's the Year of Indigenous Tourism and a unique point of difference for us.


Division 1: Shane Latcham

Division 1 candidate Shane Latcham.
Division 1 candidate Shane Latcham.

The Rockhampton Airport needs to be flood proofed and upgraded to international standard to allow for: (a) increased domestic, interstate and international tourists into the area and hopefully encourage direct flight services to Melbourne and Sydney; (b) better access for Singapore Army and Australian Army for increased training and; (c) improve freight services and business opportunities.

The Rockhampton airport carpark surcharge should apply after 30 minutes rather than the current 20 minutes. As planes aren't always on schedule, it would allow for more time to enjoy the facilities and dining at cafes in the terminal with your friends and family.


Division 1: Vincent ­Robertson

Division 1 candidate Vince Robertson.
Division 1 candidate Vince Robertson.

Our region has some unique attractions that tourists would be captivated by. More promotion of these attractions would make more people aware that they exist, and they can be pay a visit.

Perhaps more organized tours would attract tourists to spend their money in our community.

Our airport facilities upgraded to handle larger, heavier aircraft consistently that will allow more tourists to come to our region.

It could also allow the airport to be used to ferry freight, which could help offset the costs of maintenance.


Division 2: Neil Fisher

Division 2 candidate Councillor Neil Fisher.
Division 2 candidate Councillor Neil Fisher.

Rockhampton Airport is strategically important to developing the Northern Australian economy. It has the capacity to land some of world's largest aircraft.

The Rockhampton Airport Terminal redevelopment will assist in making our airport more attractive to the airlines. Being able to offer domestic, international and FIFO same time arrival and departures plus space for airline passenger lounges. Developing air routes, north, south, west and internationally east, is very much a priority for me.

To expand interstate and international tourism we need attractions like GKI to be rebuilt. The closure of GKI alone caused a loss of 185,000 passengers and two discount airlines from Rockhampton Airport.


Division 2: Gavin Shuker


The airport is getting improvements and the word international has been mentioned but to what capacity? Being in Toowoomba lately what the Wagner's have done is something we should look at. To fly direct to countries would spark some serious opportunities for business and employment.

Many business owners have spoken to me about the fracture between Capricorn Enterprise and Rockhampton Council and how it affects them, and I would like to look into this.

Lastly, build infrastructure like a conference centre, sport/recreation facilities and improve what we have like the Heritage Village which I feel is greatly underutilised.


Division 3: Tony Williams

Division 3 candidate Cr Tony Williams
Division 3 candidate Cr Tony Williams

Tourism will be facing one of the most difficult times in living memory due to coronavirus.

A tourism recovery plan/ campaign will require all levels of governments to work ­together on strategic approach to building our markets again.

Rockhampton Regional Council has detailed plans for an airport upgrade to bring it in line with other regional airports.


Division 4: Ellen Smith

Division 4 candidate Councillor Ellen Smith.
Division 4 candidate Councillor Ellen Smith.

There are exciting plans to upgrade the Rockhampton Airport, which will certainly improve our tourism potential. Having travelled around Australia in the 80s, I believe good signage is the key to getting tourists to call in and shop, visit our unique tourist attractions, or stop for the night. Nowadays, we have internet, Facebook and apps.

Many people visit us for sport, conferences etc, and it's always important that our visitors have a good experience, as many local businesses rely on tourism.

Our wonderful staff and volunteers at our Tourist Information Centres do a great job in promoting our region.


Division 5: Peter Anderson

Division 5 candidate Peter Anderson.
Division 5 candidate Peter Anderson.

High intensive agricultural areas also have high tourist numbers and backpackers. With agricultural exports out of the airport, you also have tourists on those planes.

We would have cold stores there and share custom services with nearby ports.

Rockhampton and surrounding councils should work together and promote the region nationally.

There are so many tourism opportunities in Central Queensland and the Capricorn Coast.

We have opportunities with beef, farm stays, field days, Fitzroy River, the zoo, National Parks, Mt Morgan with all its tourism opportunities and with nearby regions. We have The Caves, Stanage Bay, Great Keppel and communities from Keppel Sands, all the way north.


Division 5: Cherie Rutherford

Divison 5 candidate Councillor Cherie Rutherford
Divison 5 candidate Councillor Cherie Rutherford

The proposed upgrades to the Rockhampton Airport, which were necessary to meet new security protocols, will also include a compliant ­customs and immigration area that will enhance the airport's existing international flight capabilities.

These upgrades will streamline and improve airport passenger movement for domestic travellers as well as international use for military exercises. The upgrade also ensures the airport terminal and not just the runway is "international flight capable" should other opportunities arise.

Sporting tourism and the drive market should not be underestimated, and it is important we continue to host events, of all types, and provide interactive experiences that encourage people to visit and stay awhile.


Division 6: Drew Wickerson

Division 6 candidate Cr Drew Wickerson. Photo Contributed
Division 6 candidate Cr Drew Wickerson. Photo Contributed

Council has finalised designs for redevelopment of the Rockhampton Airport to upgrade security screening facilities to national standards. Commercial and public areas will be developed to enhance customer service.

Flood mitigation is being ­investigated and modelled to maintain operation of the airport.

As we work to rebuild our economy, it will be critical to stimulate our great local tourism industry. The region boasts some amazing and authentic experiences including the Botanic Gardens and Zoo, Fishing the Fitzroy, motor sports, Rockhampton Heritage Village, Mt Morgan heritage sites, Archer Park and the purrey steam tram, as well as terrific events and festivals that will drive this recovery.


Division 7: Noeleen Horan

Divison 7 candidate Noeleen Horan.
Divison 7 candidate Noeleen Horan.

The Master Plan for the airport upgrade was generated by the Federal Government's directive to strengthen security measures. This plan created an opportunity to significantly modernise the airport, which will offer a better experience for all passengers.

When the dust settles on the impact of COVID-19 and we find our new normal, the region will need to work hard to highlight our strengths to the rest of Australia.

Marketing and promotion will be key to getting us back on track and let's not forget; more tourists equals more jobs.


Division 7: Donna Kirkland

Division 7 candidate Donna Kirkland.
Division 7 candidate Donna Kirkland.

As owners of the airport, RRC needs to collaborate with all relevant entities working in the same direction to achieve the very best results for Rockhampton and the entire Capricorn region.

The current proposed upgrades for the airport will prepare the way to delivering an international carriage-ready facility, opening a doorway for agribusiness and much more.

I would like to see council explore all options in flood proofing the airport.

One great suggestion put forward is a man-made water ski park. I am full of expectation that when we all work together, Rockhampton will go on to survive and thrive.

Where to vote for pre-polling

• Gracemere Community Centre, 6‐9 Barry Street, Gracemere

• James Lawrence Pavilion, Rockhampton Showgrounds, New

Exhibition Rd, Wandal

• The Green Shed, 36 Thompson Avenue, Mount Morgan

• Yeppoon Town Hall, 25 Normanby St, Yeppoon