Cabinet meets in Maryborough as battle for votes begins
THERE were selfies with school students, jeers from anti-fracking protesters and cheers from the party faithful as the Queensland Premier and her cabinet rolled into Maryborough.
In a first for the region, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is governing from the Wide Bay this week after arriving in Hervey Bay on Sunday.
The electorate is tipped to be a key battleground in the upcoming state election, the State Election tipped to be announced any day.
Ms Palaszczuk spent part of her first day on the Fraser Coast out on the ocean whale-watching, after confirming that the swimming with the whales experience has been green-lighted by the government following a three-year trial.
Her bid to woo voters in the job-starved region continued with a pledge to award a $70million contract to Maryborough manufacturing company Downer.
Yesterday, ministers from her cabinet arrived one-by-one for a closed meeting at Maryborough State High School.
The ministers introduced themselves to the students shaking hands, and Minister Kate Jones made sure to grab a selfie with a group too.
Ms Palaszczuk denied allegations that her well-timed visit was a pur tactic for the party to hold on to its two marginal Wide Bay seats
"I made the decision that we'll start spending a week in a particular region," she said.
"This is about listening people, understanding their particular concerns for the region, and delivering for the region."
Ms Palaszczuk said she believed the Labor candidate for Hervey Bay candidate Adrian Tantari stood a strong chance against incumbent LNP MP Ted Sorensen and One Nation candidate Damian Huxham.
"In Maryborough and Bundaberg, we of course have very strong candidates in Bruce (Saunders) and with Leanne (Donaldson), they've been working their electorates incredibly hard," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"(Adrian) has the energy that's needed here in this electorate."
Opposition leader Tim Nicholls labelled Palaszczuk's visit to the region a "stunt" aimed to sugarcoat what was really happening in our region.
"People in Wide Bay are worse off because of Annastacia Palaszczuk," Mr Nicholls said.
"Wide Bay has the highest unemployment rate in Australia and the lowest disposable income per person."
But Ms Palaszczuk highlighted Labor's tactics to tackle local unemployment as one of the party's biggest achievements for locals.
She said the Labor has spent the past years fixing damage done by LNP.
"We've been working hard with employment growth, and the Back to Work program was specially put in place to target employment issues," she said.
"At Maryborough, Tim Nicholls wanted to close the laundry where they clean bedsheets and pillow cases for hospital patients.
"My Cabinet is meeting in Maryborough today where more than 100 nurses and midwives, working across the Wide Bay region, lost their jobs.
Ms Palaszczuk kept her lips sealed on whether she will call an election this week.
Minister for Agriculture Bill Byrne, who visited MSF Sugar to announced a new agriculture tariff trial, said he too was in the dark about the date of the election.
"You know as well as I do," Mr Byrne said, addressing media.
"The Premier is the captain of our ship. I have no insight track run on this one."
Mr Byrne said 93 farms in the Wide Bay region were taking part in three related trials, aimed to reduce the use of hot water systems and ultimately save money.
New meters and equipment has been installed at the properties of many of the trial participants.