Is this the man holding Bundy back?
MARYBOROUGH'S Labor MP, Bruce Saunders, is making no apologies to the people of Bundaberg that any Hinkler Regional Deal needs to include his home town.
Mr Saunders yesterday upped the ante in the political battle against the Federal Government, accusing the Deputy Prime Minister of pork-barelling and treating Maryborough residents like "second-class citizens”.
The current political stalemate threatens to stall big parts of the deal and huge projects for the Bundaberg region, such as the $32m Quay St bypass.
Mr Saunders clearly has the ear of Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, while the LNP members for Bundaberg and Burnett don't.
Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour and key business leaders in the area have called for the state to get on board with the deal, arguing Maryborough is already is already getting its fair share and any spend on Hervey Bay would flow onto the city.
But Mr Saunders is not budging.
"The fact that the Deputy Prime Minister reneged on an agreement to include Maryborough in this regional city deal shows how little they think of the residents here,” Mr Saunders said.
Mr Saunders said the Federal Government was "treating Maryborough citizens like second-class citizens”.
"It's pork-barrelling at its worst,” he said.
Asked by the NewsMail how he responded to accusations he was holding up the deal and hurting Bundaberg, Mr Saunders said he would not stand idly by and watch all the money go toward Hervey Bay and Bundaberg.
"The regional deal should have benefits for both regions,” he said.
Mr Saunders said it was a shame the LNP did not share his passion for the wider region.
"Maryborough is an emerging manufacturing hub and the job-creating backbone of the Wide Bay region,” Mr Saunders said.
"Businesses like Downer and Hyne Timber are all investing here, so the decision to completely ignore Maryborough as part of the deal just does not make sense.”
Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour said Maryborough would not be left behind if it was not included in the Deal.
Cr Seymour said the region had already received considerable funding and was not in danger of being forgotten.
He said significant investments had already been made by state and federal governments in the form of the Rheinmetall Nioa munitions factory and an upcoming water park.
Cr Seymour said there would be a number of benefits for Maryborough regardless of its inclusion in the Regional Deal, including the expansion of the USC campus and the upgrade of the Piabla-Torbanlea Rd.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack previously said it was time for the State Government to get on board with the project and the boundaries would not change.
The position taken by Mr Saunders and Ms Trad was disappointing to Fraser Coast Property Industry Association president Glen Winney.
"The fact is if you inject money from the state into Hervey Bay, this also benefits Maryborough,” Mr Winney told the Fraser Coast Chronicle, adding it was beneficial for state and federal governments to spend money rather than local governments.