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A True Blue Local

I’m a proud fifth-generation local father-of-two whose great great grandfather Constable Patrick Costigan arrived in Mackay in 1865 as a pioneering police officer.

After being educated in Mackay, I accepted a cadetship in journalism on the “Bowen Independent” at the ‘Top of the Whitsundays’ in 1989. I went on to forge a successful career in regional media, working for various newspapers and TV networks and in 2001, fulfilled a childhood dream in broadcasting the NRL on national and international TV.

I have also worked in sports administration for no less than three professional sporting clubs and previously advised the Howard Government on sport policy including drugs in sport, highlighted by a successful campaign to have former Federal Minister and NSW Premier John Fahey AC elected as Chairman of the World Anti-Doping Authority.

My passion for Mackay and the Whitsundays is second to none and hence I’m proud to represent the good people of Whitsunday in the Queensland Parliament.

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Working for Mackay and the Whitsundays

One of my proudest achievements as the first LNP Member for Whitsunday was delivering the long-awaited and much-needed Northern Beaches State High School 2013.

It was the first government school opened in Mackay since the 1990s and was promised by my Labor predecessor when she was first elected in 2001. This was made worse by previous Labor Governments opting to close schools in rural communities such as Narpi and Mt Charlton and more recently, the loss of the local kindergarten at Seaforth.

When I first campaigned for public office, there was not a single overtaking lane heading north on the Bruce Highway between Mt Ossa and the Burdekin but my fierce advocacy for the electorate has changed that, even though much more needs to be done.

Since becoming the Member for Whitsunday, we have also seen the opening of a new-look Main Street in Airlie Beach and the redevelopment of resorts such as Hayman Island, providing jobs for locals as well as opportunities for local businesses.

More recently, I successfully lobbied the Federal Government for Cat D disaster funding whilst exposing the Palaszczuk Labor Government for its failure to allocate any funding to upgrade flood-prone Shute Harbour Road in its post-cyclone State Budget.

Labor’s State Budget also failed to provide any funding to upgrade the Bruce Highway at flood-prone Goorganga Plains or for a new visitor information centre for Proserpine.

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Part of the Community

I’m always out and about in the electorate, driving about 70,000 kilometres a year as the Member for Whitsunday and Shadow Assistant Minister for North Queensland.

In fact, one only has to look at my social media posts to get a snapshot of some of the work I do for the community, getting around to all corners of the electorate – from the Whitsunday Islands in the east to remote cattle stations in the west and from Mackay’s Pioneer River in the south to Dingo Beach, Hydeaway Bay and Cape Gloucester in the north.

Locally, I’m involved with various sporting and community groups and proudly serve as the patron of the Airlie Beach Whitsunday Lifesaving Club, patron of Men of League in Mackay and co-patron of the Eimeo Surf Lifesaving Club in Mackay’s Northern Beaches.

I am proud to support local sporting teams such as the premiership-winning Whitsunday Brahmans (rugby league) and Whitsunday Sea Eagles (AFL), as well as the Mackay Cutters in the QRL’s Intrust Super Cup, the Mackay Meteors and Meteorettes in the Queensland Basketball League and the North Queensland Cowboys in the NRL competition.

I’m also proud to support a range of local community groups including Meals on Wheels in Proserpine, VMR Whitsunday, QCWA, Dingo Beach Progress Association, Rotary Club of Airlie Beach and Northern Beaches Seaview Lions Club, just to name a few.

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Some of the Things I'm Fighting For

My pet project remains the long-awaited Urannah Dam in a remote corner of my electorate that, if constructed, would turbo-charge the Mackay-Whitsunday economy.

The dam would provide water for at least 30,000 hectares of irrigated farmland, plus gravity-fed water for new mining projects in the northern Bowen Basin and potentially, the neighbouring Galilee Basin. It would also deliver much-needed jobs in the construction and tourism industries and significantly, provide water security for the Whitsundays.

I also want to see Mackay and the Whitsundays become the FIFO hub for the Galilee Basin, which means workers living in our community, instead of flying in from elsewhere.

We’re also crying out for massive investment in road infrastructure – hence my campaign to address flood-prone, state-controlled Shute Harbour Road at Hamilton Plains, just outside Proserpine, as well as the Bruce Highway at flood-prone Goorganga Plains.

I also want to see the renaissance of our island resorts and international flights for the Whitsundays to grow our tourism industry and thereby boosting jobs for locals.

This is especially critical with the Whitsundays now the No.1 departure point for visitors to the Great Barrier Reef, that international icon that we must protect but at the same time, ensure we get the balance right between jobs and the environment.

Last but not least, we need to address cost-of-living issues including the cost of electricity (70% increase in wholesale power prices under Labor) on families, business and farmers and one way to address that is by facilitating a new coal-fired, baseload power station – the most logical place for that being just over the range at Collinsville.