It has been a fantastic year for the Sunshine Coast. For all of us who want to see our community get ahead, grow, and get its fair share of Federal Government support we truly hit new heights in 2017.
Unemployment in the southern part of the Coast, in my electorate of Fisher, was just 5.1% this year, which is well below the national average. We saw 21,000 more international tourists visiting the Sunshine Coast and the lowest rate of homelessness among Australia’s 21 largest cities.
We are clearly a vibrant and growing community, but over the years we have often rightly felt that the Sunshine Coast hasn’t got its fair share. I am particularly proud of the fact that 2017 was the year that we finally shattered that barrier and made the Coast a national priority.
In 2017 the Sunshine Coast received more Federal funding than it ever has before. Working with Ted O’Brien, I have secured an extra $650 million in funding for Bruce Highway upgrades on top the $929 million we delivered last year. I have delivered Federal support for CCTV in Caloundra; wildlife conservation in Aura, and more than $200,000 in grants for local community organisations. In Fisher we received from the Federal Government $5 million for a new Community Sporting Hub in Kawana; $5 million for mental health research and treatment at the Thompson Institute, and $3 million in upgrades for the Events Centre at Caloundra.
The year gone was a great time to live on the Sunshine Coast, but 2018 can be even better. I am determined to do what I can to make that a reality.
I am proud of the funding we have delivered for the Bruce Highway, but over this Christmas period we have tragically seen too many life-changing accidents on our roads. That’s why I will be working hard to fast track our Bruce Highway upgrades and make sure that our huge new funding delivers for Sunshine Coast people as soon as possible.
To make a real difference, we need to get cars off the road. I will also be fighting to duplicate the railway line between Beerburrum and Nambour and working to get funding for a planning study to look at bringing heavy rail into the coastal strip along the CAMCOS Corridor. There is much more to local rail needs than the duplication and we need to start looking at the whole system.
I know that many people in our Hinterland feel held back by the lack of mobile reception and internet access. People on the Coast want to feel connected to their families and friends and many want to build a business in our region. I will work to support Hinterland residents to build the lives that they want with better communications infrastructure. The new Federal funding for mobile black spot towers in Beerwah, Glass House Mountains and near Peachester will help, but I will be fighting this year to get better coverage for other parts of the Hinterland. I will also be continuing to provide more information for local residents about the roll out of the national broadband network and taking up constituents’ cases directly with nbn.
As our community continues to grow and thrive we must preserve its character, and protect what makes the Coast unique. That’s why one of my most important priorities this year will be fighting against any proposal to build a casino in the new SunCentral CBD development. We need to bring meaningful new jobs here through new industries like high tech manufacturing, health and aged care and professional services, and I have been actively supporting that growth. The successes of my Defence Industry Initiative and the investments made here by companies like Youi show that it is possible, without the terrible social impact of a Casino.
Making a difference for our community is not just about delivering funding packages. It is about listening to the people who live here and supporting the lives they want to lead. My resolution this year is to try even harder to listen to you. I hope you will help me by getting in touch.
Andrew Wallace MP
Federal Member for Fisher