Queensland Treasurer Jackie Trad.
Queensland Treasurer Jackie Trad. DAN PELED

Bundy's challenge to Trad: Come to town and explain yourself

BUNDABERG'S Chamber of Commerce has invited Treasurer and Deputy Premier Jackie Trad to visit the region and explain why the Hinkler Regional Deal should not go ahead.

The Federal Government announced the initiation of the Hinkler Regional Deal in 2018 in an effort to strengthen development and investment in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay regions.

The scheme aims to pilot a regional deal with the Federal Government committing to work with state and local governments to identify significant development opportunities.

The NewsMail previously reported Ms Trad said the Queensland Government would not be part of any deal that did not include Maryborough.

Chamber president Yale Morgan said the treasurer and the State Government should reconsider their opposition to the deal and support Bundaberg and the Fraser Coast.

"Both the Premier and Treasurer need to understand that the list of projects that have been funded by the Federal Government has not been pulled out of thin air,” Mr Morgan said.

"Each one has been carefully considered to maximise the dollar spend and to provide a platform for continued investment. Each one is crucial to the region.”

Chamber of Commerce's vice-president Tim Sayre said the Treasurer owed it to Bundaberg to at least visit the area and offer an explanation to businesses and the community why the region should miss out.

"We are at a loss as to why the State Government has decided to walk away from Bundaberg and Fraser Coast, particularly when Jackie Trad herself has said this is a good economic reform program,” Mr Sayre said.

"At stake is $173 million in vital infrastructure and projects that will create real jobs and provide a platform for continued growth in our regional economy.

"As we saw with the gas pipeline investment, these projects lead to more investment and more jobs; jobs that enable our youth to remain in the area.”

A spokesman for Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said the state had created thousands of jobs in the region, and was firm on its Hinkler Regional Deal stance.

"The Palaszczuk Government has a significant $587.8 million infrastructure investment in the Wide Bay Burnett this financial year, supporting around 2200 jobs in the region,” he said.

Infrastructure projects have included upgrades for schools, health and the turtle centre redevelopment.

"To be clear, the Queensland Government will facilitate all commonwealth funding for projects identified in the federal electorate of Hinkler,” the spokesman said.

"However, we will not take part in a process that excludes a very important part of the Wide Bay economy - Maryborough.”

Maryborough is outside of the Hinkler region which includes Bundaberg and Hervey Bay, its state member is Labor's Bruce Saunders.

"The Federal Government keep calling this a deal but it's not a deal,” Ms Trad's spokesman said.

"A deal is delivered through good faith negotiation by all parties, not with one party dictating all the terms.”

The spokesman for Ms Trad said the State Government had been left in the dark on key components of the regional deal.

"At each step of this process the Federal Government has failed to consult with the State Government on key components of the proposal,” he said.

"When an agreeable negotiated position was reached between federal and state officials, it was the Federal Government who tore up the agreement and walked away from the negotiations.”

The spokesman said the state was open to a discussion, but any plans had to include Maryborough.

"Should the Federal Government decide to come back to the table for genuine negotiations that deliver outcomes for the entire Wide Bay Burnett region, including Maryborough, the State Government is more than willing to have the conversation,” he said.

The Federal Government announced the deal in 2018.

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