Foley asks Maddern: ‘Do you think we’re stupid?‘

Downer EDI General Manager of Production for Queensland, David Hill and State Member of Parliament Anne Maddern.
Downer EDI General Manager of Production for Queensland, David Hill and State Member of Parliament Anne Maddern. Valerie Horton

STATE Member for Maryborough Anne Maddern has denied the timing of the announcement of two new contracts for Downer EDI had anything to do the state election being called, but at least one person in the region isn't buying it.

Independent candidate and former state member Chris Foley described Mrs Maddern's claim that it was simply a coincidence as the "joke of the year".

"She must think people are completely stupid," Mr Foley said.

Mrs Maddern said the contracts were signed before Christmas but the timing of the announcement was delayed until the new year in order to wait until everyone was back from holidays to share the good news.

"It's just coincidental," she said.

The new year will not only bring two new Queensland Rail contracts to Maryborough's Downer EDI, it will also bring a change of direction.

The Maryborough factory has secured two maintenance contracts worth a total of $24.4 million, giving the region's economy a much-needed boost.

The maintenance contracts will also herald in a new era for Maryborough's Downer EDI, with the company's operations general manger David Hill confirming the Maryborough factory was moving away from the manufacture of new trains and focusing on bidding for maintenance contracts, which he said would give the factory a solid future.

He said the contracts would mean job certainty for Downer EDI's existing employees while casual positions would become available during peak periods.

Maryborough Member Anne Maddern said manufacturing was an increasingly difficult proposition in Australia, considering the scales of economy when compared with other countries.

She commended Downer EDI for its adaptability in ensuring the Maryborough branch of the company would continue to have a future carrying out maintenance on existing trains.

The larger of the two new contracts is worth $18.8m and Downer EDI will refurbish the Rockhampton tilt trains, upgrading key mechanical, electrical and control components to make sure the trains continue to function safely and reliably.

The second contract is worth $5.6 million and will involve an internal upgrade of a number of carriages used on the Spirit of Outback Brisbane-Longreach service.

Labor candidate for Maryborough Bruce Saunders could not be reached for comment.

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