George YANG

Get To Know Your Candidates: Adrian Tantari

THE Fraser Coast Chronicle is running in-depth profile pieces on each of the region's state election candidates.

At a time when unemployment, access to health services and the dismal state of our section of the Bruce Highway are key and disenfranchisement with major parties palpable, the Chronicle plays an important role in helping readers make an informed choice.

A retired volunteer who spends his time "giving back to the community” embodied the spirit of community and - without realising it - epitomised the meaning of "togetherness” for current election hopeful Adrian Tantari.

Mr Tantari, who worked with the Urangan Pier 2017 Centenary Committee and helped with the roll-out of activities for the opening of the pier in March this year, said he met the generous retiree at the pier celebration.

"I was fortunate to work as major team player of the iconic pier and I met a number of retired individuals. One of them spent all his time giving back to community. He embodies what the spirit of togetherness is in the community.

"He's a lovely man, and you look at people like that and they inspire you.”

Mr Tantari said the retired volunteer had shown him the importance of "inclusiveness” and "the good side of human nature”.

"I think it's vitally important that no matter how we go through the generations, we must be compassionate, inclusive and look after each other. That's what a community is,” Mr Tantari said this week.

"We talk about economy all the time ... it's not an economy, it's a community. I don't believe we should be inciting hate, racism and division. Our policies should be about inclusion.”

Mr Tantari said he was running for the seat of Hervey Bay "because the community is tired of not being listened too and heard and needs an experienced and strong representative who will act on people's concerns”.

If elected later this month, he said he would make the regionalisation of government departments and services into Hervey Bay a regional priority in a bid to activate jobs growth and promote the local economy.

The Labor candidate - and passionate community supporter - said he would call for the re-establishment of the Ministerial Regional Community Forum process across the State, based out of Hervey Bay.

"I would establish a compulsory regional State Members forum to drive regional economic and social matters, to work on collective community outcomes for significant matters, such as youth issues and mental health issues.”

The regional manager for the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning with the State Government said he envisaged the group could meet three to four times a year, and he would call for Hervey Bay/Fraser Coast to be established as an area of "economic significance, for priority considerations”.

Currently a member of the Hervey Bay Historical Society, Hervey Bay Boat Club and Fraser Coast Bicycle Users Group, Mr Tantari said he was determined to advocate for the region at state and federal levels and he believed creation of jobs was the most important issue for the area.

"We also want to see that our services are maintained and that we have processes in place that are top-notch

"It's important that we have a focus on jobs. When I first arrived in 2000, the population was just over 30,000, and now it is close to 65,000.”

He said growth in the region was "moving forward” and there needed to be a focus on infrastructure and programs to meet the growth.

"We need to make sure our roads are adequate and we are doing that. We've spent about $38 million in road works in the area.

"We need to make sure our health service keeps pace and the Palaszczuk Government has spent

$44 million for a new accident and emergency department in Harvey Bay Hospital.”

Mr Tantari said jobs losses were extremely difficult outside major cities, as "there's no replacement work and that's the crushing thing for people when they lose their work”.

"When we lose a single job here in Hervey Bay, that's equivalent to 15 in the city. It can mean that the person, with their partners and families, has to leave the area.”

He said significant job losses in the public service sector from 2012-2015 had created high unemployment and "that's one of the biggest reasons why I'm running - to ensure this doesn't happen again”.

Mr Tantari - whose interests include public policy focussing on community and multicultural development, education, mental health, sport and the arts - said job losses affected the community because it was so tight-knit.

He said that with an "extensive background in employment”, he was committed to pursuing job creation and rejuvenation through enhancing the USC Fraser Coast and TAFE.

"We have a university campus here and I believe Hervey Bay should become the principal education hub of our Wide Bay region. The potential knock-on effects of the university campus are enormous.”

The father of three children aged 30, 23, and 14, and with his wife Sue, said the region was "blessed by its geographical beauty” and could attract big events affiliated with the sports tourism market.

As a cyclist, he said Hervey Bay would be ideal as a city that could be promoted as part of Australia's "massive” cycling and tourism market.

Mr Tantari was born in 1961 in Altona, Victoria, and is the son of an Italian immigrant who arrived as a 17-year-old in Australia from a war-torn country to work as a painter and on the hydroelectric schemes before becoming a small business owner.

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