Mayor Jack Demsey in conversation with Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Senator Anthony Chisholm
Mayor Jack Demsey in conversation with Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Senator Anthony Chisholm

What key Labor politicians learned on a trip to Bundaberg

AFTER Labor's shock election defeat, the party is looking to fix its relationship with regional communities like Bundaberg.

Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Senator Anthony Chisholm, visiting Bundaberg yesterday, said you either win or learn from an election, and following this year's rout in regional Queensland, Labor was learning.

"One of the most important lessons that we learned from the election is that we didn't do a good enough job in regional Queensland," Dr Chalmers said.

"As a team, I think we'll give ourselves every chance to have a message that resonates and policies which resonate in this town and right around regional Queensland."

Dr Chalmers said creating jobs, infrastructure investment and removing the cashless card were at the forefront of discussions on what needed to change in Bundaberg.

"Things like the cashless welfare card won't create any jobs, and what regions like this need are jobs, so we need a national plan that encompasses a whole range of things," he said.

Dr Chalmers said Federal member for Hinkler Keith Pitt and Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien were butting heads about the Hinkler Regional Deal and it wasn't doing the region any favours.

"We can't have a situation where the two federal members [Pitt and O'Brien] are barneying about the Hinkler Deal, while the people of this region go without," he said.

"There are city deals going on around Australia, which are progressing quicker than the Hinkler Deal because these two characters can't get their act together.

"From what I understand it's an issue around the cashless welfare card and Keith wants it extended to Maryborough and Llew said that will happen over his dead body and they're having a big barney about this."

Mr Chisholm said without the deal going ahead jobs wouldn't be created.

"For as long as that continues, then this region will be sold short, we won't get the building started and we won't get the jobs created," he said.

"I mean, if you said to anyone along this street 'Do you think we need more infrastructure investment here and does infrastructure investment make more local jobs?', they'd say 'Yes'.

"It's remarkable that we can't make faster progress."

Mr Pitt agreed the Hinkler Deal would be good for jobs, but said Labor needed to be the ones supporting it.

"The best thing Jim Chalmers and Anthony Chisholm can do is ring Premier Palaszczuk and tell her to sign on to the Hinkler Regional Deal - which will lead to more local jobs and more investment - and to put some money on the table," Mr Pitt said.

"The Hinkler Regional Deal was announced almost 12 months ago and the boundary has not changed and will not change.

"The Cashless Debit Card started rolling out in January and its boundary won't change, it is to help address social issues in the Hinkler electorate."

Mr Chisholm said Labor was against the implementation of the cashless card in Bundaberg.

"We don't support the cashless welfare card for a lot of reasons, but I think the principal reason is it won't create a job in Bundaberg," he said.

"And a lot of time, and effort, and money that gets spent on this issue by the government is to distract from the fact that they don't have a plan for local jobs.

"Imagine if they had spent as much time and effort on a plan for local jobs as they'd spent on this thing, the town would be better off.

"They have got this policy, which isn't about getting people from welfare into work, it's about getting a good headline in a Sydney newspaper and that's what drives their approach," he said.

The pair also met Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey during their visit.



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