EXCLUSIVE: What Warrego MP will advocate for in 2021
As Queensland begins to spring back from the biggest crisis since World War II, one Member of Parliament has shared the things she will fight for in her rural electorate.
Member for Warrego Ann Leahy, who was returned to office on October 31, has told the News Corp the main issues she’ll be pushing for in 2021.
The LNP opposition MP, who represents Southwest Queensland and the Dalby area, said her first priority as ensuring Regional Queensland has reasonable access to any potential COVID-19 vaccinations in the new year.
Ms Leahy is concerned that due to the logistic requirements of transporting a substance as cold as -70C, it may only be available in major centres like Brisbane.
She said the Warrego electorate has many vulnerable elderly people who will need the shot.
Her next priority is making sure the agriculture industry remains robust, even through any bad weather.
“What really concerns me is if that review of droughted areas happens in about April, going into the winter,” Ms Leahy said.
She’s also concerned that the Labor government will discontinue stock subsidies.
“I’ll be looking to hold Labor to account in terms of their basic drought assistance,” she said.
Housing availability across Southwest Queensland is another priority for Ms Leahy, especially for towns like Roma, Thargomindah, and Quilpie.
“Often we’ll have people coming for a job, and you can’t find adequate housing,” she said.
“I think there’s a lot of work to do with our local governments as well, in relation to getting more available houses for rent.
“There’s quite a lot for sale, but that doesn’t solve the problem.”
But Ms Leahy thinks houses need to be spread throughout the district, instead of being clumped into Roma, so that the market can grow steadily and there’s not an oversaturation of empty houses in the communities.
Dalby is facing a different situation though, with developers finding significant incentives to build more homes.
And while this is good for the town’s development, Ms Leahy would like to make sure there’s an adequate water supply to support the growing Western Downs.
“You can’t keep putting straws in that and expecting it to last,” she said about the town’s bore water system.
“What we need to do is to try and find an alternative water source for these communities as they’re growing.”
Roads and transport infrastructure are always on Ms Leahy’s mind, given the huge network for her sparsely populated electorate.
She wants to advocate for the Augathella intersection upgrade, Warri Gate Road’s sealing, Warrego Highway investments, and returning the Surat to St George section of the Carnarvon Highway to 110km/h.
Ms Leahy welcomes any funding the comes to the ‘second Bruce Highway’, but there are some details she wants cleared up.
“The bypass of St George is actually owned by the council, so there’d have to be some arrangement between the Department of Transport and council,” she said.
She also wants to see the projected traffic figures of the inland highway, and she is sceptical as to whether or not it could be a practical freight alternative to the existing Bruce, given how far inland it is.
Finally, Ms Leahy will advocate for incentives to help reduce crime across the Warrego electorate.
“You’ve got ask the question of what’s driving that? You can get a job anywhere in town,” she said.
Ms Leahy also said she’s heard from many residents that they’ve been victims to criminals on their third, fourth, and fifth chances.
Her solution is to get tough on juveniles breaching bail, and to find out the root cause of the offenders’ behaviour.