Treasurer turns down Coast ‘job'

THE FRASER Coast has been passed over for the Gold Coast in spite of a written invitation from the Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce to Treasurer Andrew Fraser to do his ministerial work experience in the Bay.

“He has already committed to walking in the shoes of a labourer at the Gold Coast university site,” Mr Fraser's spokesperson told the Chronicle yesterday.

Chamber president Bernard Whebell said he had written to Mr Fraser on September 16 to invite him to come to the Bay to work.

“We have a number of small and medium-size businesses, working in which would allow you to better appreciate the challenges that are faced by businesses in a regional economy such as Hervey Bay.

“Should this opportunity not be possible we still extend an invitation for you to come and meet our members and understand the challenges they face on a daily basis.”

“The Treasurer received several offers to do work experience and, while he's most grateful for the invitation by the Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce, he has already committed,” the spokesperson said.

“But as the minister responsible for the Wide Bay Burnett Regional Plan, he's looking forward to visiting the region next week where he will attend and chair a Regional Planning Committee meeting in Maryborough, and then travel to Hervey Bay to address a lunch hosted by the Fraser Coast Branch of the UDIA.”

Mr Whebell said the chamber's members faced significant challenges on a daily basis “and if Mr Fraser was able to take the time, he would learn a lot about the challenges in running a small business in a regional city such as Hervey Bay”.

His suggested opportunities for work experience included:

  • one of the tourism businesses, possibly at the harbour, where the Treasurer could get a better understanding of the difficulties faced by harbour-based businesses and the uncertainty raised by the pending harbour redevelopment;
  • in one of the seafood operations where he could get a better understanding of the importance of the seafood industry to Hervey Bay and what the potential closure of fishing grounds by the Federal Government could mean;
  • in one of the retail shops either along the Esplanade or along Boat Harbour Drive where he could better understand the challenges that the retail sector is facing in an area with unemployment higher than the state average;
  • as a builders' labourer with one of Hervey Bay's builders to understand the challenges that builders face dealing with the various levels of government; or
  • as either a hairdresser's assistant or a cab driver “as they are often the businesses that know what is going on around town”.

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