Get To Know Your Candidates: Ted Sorensen's goals
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.
State Member for Hervey Bay Ted Sorensen is a big believer in the power of working directly with his community to boost the services and facilities in a region he has been involved with for more than 22 years.
Mr Sorensen, who announced a $1-million investment for a new clubhouse for the Hervey Bay Girl Guides last week, said the creation of local infrastructure for community groups was a priority when planning and building "stronger local communities”.
He said he was keen to ensure the clubhouse was finished by 2019 when the Girl Guides would celebrate 90 years in Hervey Bay - "which is a milestone”.
The LNP MP - a former two-term mayor from 2000 to 2008 and previously deputy mayor and councillor - said a personal highlight in his political endeavours had been the completion of the Hervey Bay Airport when he was mayor.
"Or when I first looked at the completed Cancer and Dental Clinic and the Sports Hall at the Hervey Bay High School.
"They certainly brought the 'wow' factor. In saying that, all of these were achieved by working with the people of Hervey Bay. Local people always know what it takes to build stronger local communities.”
Mr Sorensen said state and federal politics was a "whole different ballgame” to local council politics, and it was vital to keep in touch with "the people on the street”.
"You need to make sure you treat all people with respect. You meet a lot of lovely people along the way and you have to work together. It's not just you that achieves the outcomes at the end of the day,” he said.
"It's all about working with people who have a vision and I think that's the most rewarding part about being a politician - seeing the place grow and working together.”
The lifestyle, weather, and picturesque environment "loaded with tourism heroes” had helped ensure Hervey Bay was on the map as one of the best tourism destinations in Australia, Mr Sorensen said.
He believed "tourism heroes” such as whale-watching pioneers Brian and Jill Perry who started Australia's first on-water whale watching tours in 1987 - and who recently sold their business in July this year - had been crucial to the success and development of the region.
"Those people deserve recognition. There's also people on Fraser Island who have pioneered and made tourism in the area what it is today.”
He said one project "close to my heart” had been the instalment of air-conditioning for the Hervey Bay Special School.
"Air-conditioning saved some children from having seizures that could be bought on by a hot day.
"Working with interested parties - be it volunteer or sporting groups or communities services or schools - is the best way to achieve the best outcomes to make Hervey Bay a great place.”
Mr Sorensen and his wife Jenny have between them five children living in Melbourne, Brisbane, Townsville, Cairns and Hervey Bay.
In his spare time, he said he liked "getting a nice big mud crab every now and then” and creek fishing in the area.
"I also just like to like to go down the beach and look at the water and walk along the esplanade, and we do have a fantastic esplanade. You can pull up anywhere and walk down to the beach. And that's what makes Hervey Bay so great.”
He said the rainforest on Fraser Island was also "unbelievable”.
If re-elected after polling day on November 25, Mr Sorensen said his focus would be on creating jobs for the region "by reducing costs and red tape on small business” combined with maintaining infrastructure such as hospital beds, fire stations, police stations and ambulances stations.
Born and educated in Hervey Bay, Mr Sorensen's family has been in the area for five generations.
"Earning a living as a pastoralist, I married and raised my family here,” he said.
"I really enjoyed playing rugby league, and coaching and umpiring softball when my children were playing in my younger days. And this is where I found the great sense of 'community kinship' in this great city.”
Mr Sorensen said he was brought up on politics. "When I was a child we didn't have electricity - we had battery-operated radio and the only things we got to listen to were news and politics.”
He was elected to State Parliament in 2009 and said he remained a "proud patron” of many organisations and was "always humbled by the selfless contributions of the volunteers in this city”.
Included in the list of LNP achievements in the area, Mr Sorensen said he was glad to have been involved with increasing the number of dialysis chairs so locals did not have to travel to Gympie and beyond; the unveiling of St Peter Statue in honour of lost fishermen; Boot Camps for disengaged youth; Early Learning Centre refurbishments; a new fire truck for Hervey Bay station in 2013; and student literacy funding.
He said the Woody Island Middle Bluff lighthouse had also been restored with $200,000 in funding and The North Bluff lighthouse would be next.
He had also worked to secure the ex-HMAS Tobruk to be established as a dive site for the Fraser Coast/Bundaberg region late last year in an effort to bring domestic and international visitors to the region, creating jobs at a national, prime dive site.