How a tiny Qld town plans to become the next Las Vegas
CHARLEVILLE could be Australia's answer to Las Vegas, if the Katter Australia Party gets its way.
Former Condamine grain grower Rowell Walton, who is the party's first pick on the Queensland Senate ticket, said he first wanted to see two casino licences made available for Charleville.
"That's my idea and let's put it out there and let people have a yarn about it," he said.
"Charleville's the right place for it. It draws people from across inland Queensland and there would be benefits as a result of travel."
Referencing Las Vegas' isolated geography, nestled in Nevada's Mojave Desert, Mr Walton said putting casinos in regional areas had been done before and had worked.
"We'd be looking for two casino licences in the first instance and would be having a conversation about upgrading the airport to take decent jets from around the world, making it ultimately into an international airport," he explained.
Mr Walton said he was serious about decentralisation, a process which would bring jobs and money into regional areas.
"We haven't costed it all up - and it would cost some money - but we have to arrest the decline in our regions," Mr Walton said.
"This is a brainstorming exercise that's happened among a few of us. There were a number of ideas that are similar in nature. This one has has the best possibilities."
Decentralisation was important, Mr Walton said, because it maintains population bases and made it easier to justify services, such as health and education, as well as providing employment and stability.
"It also provides a well-distributed community across the nation, which also makes it a bit more difficult for defence reasons for other people to contemplate inhabiting our inlands."
Mr Walton grew up on a wheat farm in the eastern wheat belt of Western Australia and went to agricultural college in Cunderdin.
He got itchy feet after two successive droughts in the late 70s and "discovered the new world in Queensland".
Over the next five years, he moved his family and assets across Australia to Condamine, where his children were schooled.
"We built out farm from 5000 acres to 30,000 acres through until the late 2000s and were seriously affected by some capital declines following the GFC, which were exacerbated by a very, very serious flood in 2010 when the entirety of our income and some of our assets were lost," he said.
"There was no effective assistance for property of our scale and we were also affected by a change of philosophy in lenders as we moved from Landmark to ANZ.
"We fell into a certain column in the ANZ book which ANZ had decided that would prefer to liquidate and ultimately they obviously made the decisions to take us in that route, take us that way."
He has long had an interest in politics and was a member of the Queensland Graingrowers Association until it was amalgamated into Agforce. He later served in management for the National Party becoming disillusioned with the political process.
He helped start the New Country Party, which was later de-registered.
He got a phone call in 2012 asking him to get involved in politics again and so he found himself in the company of the Katter Australia Party.
Mr Walton has spent the last 12 months working as a research officer for Rob Katter MP and lives in Toowoomba.
Mr Walton said people should vote for the KAP because the two major parties had become so alike as to be almost identical.
"I think they're both believe in the same things and when you hear people like Julie Bishop talking about how good Paul Keating is, as I heard on the TV just a couple of weeks ago, I think we have really lost our way dreadfully," he said.
"They are both so close to one another. You need to vote and you need to use your vote as carefully as you can to cause change to become part of the political process. Don't be afraid of a little bit of change."