STATE FUNDING: State member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson announced $5 million funding toward a new water treatment plant. Another $5 million from the state will go towards Bundaberg's new sports complex.
Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail
STATE FUNDING: State member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson announced $5 million funding toward a new water treatment plant. Another $5 million from the state will go towards Bundaberg's new sports complex. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail Max Fleet BUN181215WTP5

The rise and fall of Labor's Leanne Donaldson

FOR almost three years Leanne Donaldson held the seat of Bundaberg after defeating the LNP's Jack Dempsey at the January 2015 state election.

As Labor's only MP in the region, she took on both the LNP's Member for Burnett and Federal Member for Hinkler, and there was plenty of trash-talk between both camps.

Ms Donaldson told Mr Pitt to cross the floor for Bundaberg businesses or "he shouldn't bother coming back from Canberra” after it was revealed the Federal Government was planning a motion to condemn the Palaszczuk Government's Buy Queensland policy in August this year.

The policy was designed to give local businesses priority for government spending.

Ms Donaldson also took on Mr Pitt over the Cashless Debit Card, opposing the Federal Government's plan to trial the card in the Hinkler region.

Ms Donaldson also went up against Mr Bennett on a range of issues including the gas pipeline and Labor's direction for Bundaberg Regional Council to amend its planning scheme to limit development at Burnett Heads.

Bundaberg MP Leanne Donaldson and Minister for Main Roads, Road Safety and Ports Mark Bailey at the new Knauf plasterboard factory to announce $4m of road upgrades planned for the Port of Bundaberg.
Bundaberg MP Leanne Donaldson and Minister for Main Roads, Road Safety and Ports Mark Bailey at the new Knauf plasterboard factory to announce $4m of road upgrades planned for the Port of Bundaberg. Eliza Goetze

There were plenty of highs and lows during Ms Donaldson's term, which saw her step into the agriculture minister role in December 2015 before she was forced to step down in November 2016 amid controversy surrounding her financial situation.

Despite the revelations that undoubtedly tarnished her reputation, during her time in the seat Ms Donaldson delivered some big-ticket funding for the Bundaberg region.

Highlights

January 2015: Elected to the seat of Bundaberg

LABOR RESULT: Leanne Donaldson celebrates.
Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
LABOR RESULT: Leanne Donaldson celebrates. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott BUN310115CELEB3

October 2015: Ms Donaldson announced the Labor Government would increase funding to the Bundaberg Gas Pipeline from $11 million to almost $20 million in a bid to build the port into an economic hub for the Wide Bay region.

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Australian Gas Networks chief operating officer Andrew Staniford, APA's Matthew Sawyer and Minister for Agriculture & Fisheries Leanne Donaldson.Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Australian Gas Networks chief operating officer Andrew Staniford, APA's Matthew Sawyer and Minister for Agriculture & Fisheries Leanne Donaldson.Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott BUN070416PIPE8

October 2015: The Palaszczuk Government revealed its action plan for flood mitigation works in Bundaberg in the form of a Bundaberg Flood Protection Scoping Study.

Ms Palaszczuk said the study would result in a 10-year action plan for major flood mitigation solutions in Bundaberg and she credited Ms Donaldson for fighting for the people of Bundaberg on the issue.

"This was a commitment that we made to the people of Bundaberg during the election campaign and Leanne has been instrumental in ensuring the voice of the community was heard on this matter,” she said at the time.

December 2015: Ms Donaldson takes on the role of Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries in a cabinet reshuffle.

Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Leanne Donaldson.
Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Leanne Donaldson. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott BUN111215LEANNE21

December 2015: $10 million committed by Labour to the Rubyanna Wastewater Treatment Plant and Bundaberg Multiplex.

June 2016: Ms Donaldson announced $10 million to upgrade the Mon Repos Turtle Centre to make it a first-class facility.

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk at Mon Repos. Member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson and Mon Repos ranger Cathy Gatley.
Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk at Mon Repos. Member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson and Mon Repos ranger Cathy Gatley. Mike Knott BUN021117PREMIER5

"It will be a fantastic redevelopment that will allow more people to enjoy and learn about turtles, and also enhance the research capabilities,” she said at the time.

August 2016: Ms Donaldson joined the region's fight to scuttle the ex-HMAS Tobruk off the coast between Bundaberg and Hervey Bay as a dive site. It was the battle the region won as it was announced in December 2016.

"It is a huge honour that our state has been selected to continue the great name of the vessel and I am sure Wide Bay will be a worthy host,” Ms Donaldson said.

"The Palaszczuk Government is committed to creating jobs for Queenslanders, particularly in our regions that need it the most.”

September 2017: Bundaberg's much-anticipated State Development Area at the Port of Bundaberg took a giant leap forward in September with the release of the draft development scheme.

State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham (middle) announces the State Development Area plan for the Bundaberg Port with Minister for Employment Grace Grace, Member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson and Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey.
State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham (middle) announces the State Development Area plan for the Bundaberg Port with Minister for Employment Grace Grace, Member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson and Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey. Craig Warhurst

Labor declared Bundaberg's SDA in February this year. The project aims to make it easier for industry to invest in the 6076ha area on the eastern side of the Burnett River.

Ms Donaldson said the SDA would make Bundaberg an attractive destination for new and existing business and industry looking to expand and invest.

September 2017: Labor announced a new $18 million biorefinery project for Bundaberg that would create more than 30 local jobs across the region. The project will seek to re-purpose the soon-to-be-retired Bundaberg East Wastewater Treatment Plant, with the aim of forming a world-leading biotechnology and education hub for the future.

September 2017: The Palaszczuk Government revealed its Skilling Queenslanders for Work initiative had helped 740 people in the Wide Bay region get back into the workforce.

LABOR CANDIDATE: Opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk announces that Leanne Donaldson will contest the next State Election in the seat of Bundaberg.
Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail
LABOR CANDIDATE: Opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk announces that Leanne Donaldson will contest the next State Election in the seat of Bundaberg. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail Max Fleet BUN080414LAB6

Figures to the end of August showed a total 1144 people had completed a Skilling Queenslanders for Work project. 747 people had secured a job and 202 had gone onto further training or returned to school.

Ms Donaldson said community projects under Skilling Queenslanders for Work in the Wide Bay region had helped give support to people facing barriers.

Lowlights

July 2015: After the NewsMail revealed Ms Donaldson's son posted inappropriate memes on social media, including an astronaut on the moon brandishing a knife and an Islamic State flag, Ms Donaldson was forced to sack him from a casual role in her office.

November 2016: Ms Donaldson was forced to pay almost $8000 in rates that went unpaid for three years on the day Bundaberg Regional Council voted to sell her home.

MEDIA ADDRESS: MP for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson apologises for recent financial discrepancies.
MEDIA ADDRESS: MP for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson apologises for recent financial discrepancies. Paul Donaldson BUN041116DON2

November 2016: Ms Donaldson resigns from the role of agriculture and fisheries minister after further revelations that she had been driving her car while unregistered.

November 2016: An emotional Ms Donaldson revealed her struggle with depression, saying her marriage breakdown in 2009 and the financial difficulties associated with it saw her mental illness take hold.

Leanne Donaldson at the South Bundaberg State School polling booth.
Leanne Donaldson at the South Bundaberg State School polling booth. Mike Knott BUN251117ELECTION11

November 2017: Ms Donaldson conceded defeat in the state election.

"Today I called David Batt to offer my congratulations and to concede the seat of Bundaberg,” she said last month.

"I asked David to always keep the people of Bundaberg front of mind and to put their needs first.”



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