JOSIE and Blair Angus, Kimberley Station, Moranbah, played host to a political contingent last night – after welcoming three Senators, a State MP, and a Federal MP to their home.
After a tour of the feedlot and the proposed abattoir site, it was back to the homestead for a demonstration from Mr Angus on different cuts of beef, and the importance of the industry in Queensland.
We sat down with each of the Senators, and asked for their top five issues to be facing regional Queenslanders at the moment.
Here’s what they said.
Senator Fiona Nash
1. Investing in partnership with regional communities.
We know absolutely where we have local leadership in those communities and partnership in investing that those communities are going to absolutely fly.
Making sure that we've got the provision of not only doctors but allied health and mental health professionals out into the regions.
That's land transport, broadband, mobile phones. We are continuing to really invest right across all of those areas and particularly that connectivity is the key issue that comes up time and time everywhere I go.
4. Access to education.
Regional students' access to education and making sure that we've got our young people out in the regions having access to the education they need, being it junior, infants, primary, secondary, vocational - whatever it might be, and that is incredibly important to make sure that we have those opportunities there for young people.
5. Investment in projects.
Making sure that we continue regional investment in projects; town by town, community by community. What that does is really build confidence in those communities. You can't really measure confidence - but we know that if a town is confident, then those communities really thrive.
Bonus point: Decentralisation.
Making sure that we get our public sector jobs, we've got the whole of government policy now of looking at the cities of Sydney, Melbourne, and Canberra, and looking at what would be appropriate to move out. It's not only public sector though - it's corporate as well.
Senator Matt Canavan
Jobs for regional Queensland. It's been a tough few years. We're still suffering the effects of an economic downturn, especially in places like Townsville.
Right across the board, but particularly for manufacturing across regional Queensland.
But that's a positive - that there's so much opportunities for extended water use across agriculture, but I suppose we haven't perhaps proceeded as quickly on things like the Flinders and Gilbert systems and dams that we'd like to build elsewhere.
That's still one of the biggest issues that are brought up - particularly with connectivity for the beef sector. Both beef roads and northern roads programs are good but we need to build on that now.
It's for liveability out here if we want people to live out here and attract more people out here we have to have adequate services and telecommunications including broadband is an integral part of modern life.
Senator Bridget McKenzie
1. Jobs out in the regions.
That requires a whole lot of things - what it doesn't require is walking away from coal or gas, as they have in my home state (Victoria). That's why it's so great to be up here in Queensland where coal is recognised as not only a cheap and reliable source of energy, but a provider of local regional jobs.
Communications need to be effective because that's they way we are going to harness all of the opportunities in the regions that the 21st Century is going to bring us.
Having an appropriate education system for our young people, particularly growing up, there's skill shortages in the regions. We need to get our young people excited about science, technology, and mathematics because they are the jobs of the future and we can see agri tech going ahead in leaps and bounds. That has to be a partnership between State and Federal governments because we have early childhood, primary, secondary, and also transitioning to higher education or vocational education and training, or a job.
4. Affordable and reliable energy.
Whether it's gas, whether it's renewables or whether it's coal. Right now renewables aren't there in the provision of that base-load power. We know that, that's what the science tells us. So for now it's got to be coal and gas. We need to make sure we have access to that.
5. More free trade agreements.
It's not just about getting more beef into Indonesia which is what I want to see, or more beef into Northern Europe, but it's also about other aspects of our economies - tourism, the movement of people. We have some great universities in regional Australia - rather than assuming all these internationally students want to head off to Melbourne or Sydney, let's think about giving them a rural experience.