Burnett Labor candidate to focus on jobs for kids
LEE Harvey knows first hand the struggles faced by the region's jobseekers, and the toll moving away in order to gain employment can have on families.
Announced as the Labor Party candidate for the seat of Burnett in the upcoming state election, Mr Harvey said creating more secure employment opportunities was his top priority.
The now 64-year-old Bargara boilermaker attended primary and high school in Bargara and Bundaberg, before he moved to Brisbane in 1968 to secure an apprenticeship.
When Mr Harvey returned to the region in 1992, qualified and with a wealth of work experience, he was astonished to find nothing much had changed on the job front.
Despite having built the Sarina Sugar Mill boiler, Mr Harvey couldn't find steady work and said he missed much of his four children growing up when he had no choice but to work in the mines.
"I had sugar mill experience and still couldn't get a job here," he said.
After a divorce and second marriage, Mr Harvey's family now also includes four step-children, and he's had to watch seven of the eight kids move away in order to find jobs.
"All my kids have had to leave and my wife's kids, there's only one here, all the rest have had to leave for work," he said.
"With the grandkids now coming along, I don't want them leaving as well. We need work here."
Mr Harvey said flood-proofing projects throughout the region, from Bargara to Agnes Water and out to Miriam Vale, would create jobs while stopping towns from being cut off during weather events.
"That's work - infrastructure, building bridges, roadworks," he said.
"I'll be pushing more for local jobs for local industry."
As his first foray into politics, Mr Harvey said he was a team player who would support the Labor Party line.
"I'm not a career politician, I'm a tradesman and I thought, 'let's get in at the grass roots and try and make a difference'.
"I want to make it good for the kids."