OPPOSITION leader Tony Abbott showed he has his eye on the Fraser Coast region, after meeting with local industry leaders in a closed-door summit that will guide his policies in the lead-up to the next federal election.
Unemployment, neglected roads and stifled business opportunities were among the issues scrutinised by Mr Abbott and his team during the flying visit during the weekend.
But it was not all work and no play, as keen swimmer Mr Abbott donned his infamous budgie smugglers to take part in the 1.6km Pier to Pub ocean swim on Saturday morning.
Mr Abbott says Fraser Coast businesses are being suffocated by red tape and environmental legislation, but ditching the Carbon Tax could help breathe fresh life into the region.
After meeting with local business leaders at a closed meeting on Friday night, Mr Abbott admitted he could not wave a magic wand for the region, but said slashing needless bureaucracy would go a long way toward curing the region's ills.
"I couldn't promise them that things would change overnight under a new government but I think I was able to address most of their concerns," Mr Abbott said.
Key issues raised at the meeting included the carbon tax, the Bruce Hwy, and what Mr Abbott described as "the general suffocation of business with too much red tape, green tape and workplace over-regulation".
He said initiatives such as the National Broadband Network should not take priority over "Queensland's lifeline".
"We've already committed money to flood-proofing the worst parts of the Bruce Hwy," Mr Abbott said.
"We are going to get rid of the Carbon Tax (and) we think it's more important to concentrate on infrastructure such as the Bruce Hwy than on fibre to every single home," Mr Abbott said.
Unemployment rates, which rose to 9.5% in March, were also a hot topic among the region's movers and shakers - but there is no simple solution to cutting the dole queues.
"The best thing we can do for unemployment is stop the big new taxes, particularly the carbon tax, to take the pressure off interest rates by getting government spending down," he said.
Despite coming last in his category for the Pier to Pub ocean swim, Mr Abbott made it clear he would visit again.
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