Whitsunday MP accuses Premier of 'leaning on' Adani
AS MOST of the region's politicians celebrated a flurry of announcements made by Adani recently, a disappointed Jason Costigan logged onto Facebook.
On Tuesday last week, Adani Group chairman Gautum Adani flew into Townsville and announced it the location for its regional headquarters, Mackay the maintenance hub and Rockhampton and Townsville potential FIFO hubs for the Carmichael coal mine.
Federal MP George Christensen then bought a full page advertisement in the Daily Mercury thanking Adani for the economic boost, and State MPs Julieanne Gilbert and Jim Pearce issued a joint press release "welcoming" the news.
But after being cut from the list of potential FIFO hubs, Whitsunday MP Mr Costigan typed out his concerns about the "political reasoning" behind Adani's decisions.
Firstly, he accused Queensland Premier Annascatcia Palaszczuk of pushing Adani to choose hub locations that would earn the party maximum political points.
"Politics is the reasoning behind Townsville and Rockhampton being earmarked as FIFO hubs for Adani's proposed $22 billion Carmichael coal mine and associated projects," Mr Costigan said.
"The fact is the State Labor MPs for Townsville, Mundingburra and Thuringowa are under the pump, especially as a result of youth crime getting out of control in the North.
"And Labor's State MP for Keppel is hardly setting the world on fire in her electorate which takes in a big chunk of Rockhampton's northern suburbs plus the Capricorn Coast. So politically, for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, it makes sense for her to lean on Adani and get them to agree to these arrangements."
Although Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne won his seat by a greater margin than Mackay's Julieanne Gilbert during the 2015 election, Mr Costigan believed that because Mackay was a Labor safe seat there was little political incentive for it to be named a FIFO location.
While Mr Costigan only won his seat by a 0.76% margin, he suggested Whitsunday wasn't chosen for FIFO because he represented the wrong party.
"Why would you reward a MP from the LNP's State Opposition whom they couldn't blast out during the last election?" he said.
"And as for the Labor-held electorate of Mirani, just 10 minutes from Mackay's CBD, why would Palaszczuk give it any consideration? After all, up until last year, Mirani had been an LNP or Nationals seat for more than 70 years!"
"So what (the Premier) has done here is sacrifice Mirani, give up on Whitsunday and concentrate on retaining her first-term MPs in & around Townsville & Rocky... simple as that."
He also pointed out that Clermont hadn't been earmarked as a DIDO hub, which he suggested was typical of political indifference towards regional areas.
"You don't need a degree in political science to work this out... just an understanding of the geopolitical landscape in regional and rural Queensland and a genuine feel for what's happening in the bush," he said.
Mr Costigan could not be contacted for comment on Monday.
However, Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert said state government had no role in determining which areas were selected for FIFO hubs, and suggested it was in fact Mr Costigan "playing politics".
"It was made purely by the Adani company," she said.
"I was disappointed (Mackay) didn't get nominated on the (FIFO hub) shortlist. (But) Mackay has been identified as an engineering service hub which will be far more valuable into the future."
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the decision on location was a commercial decision for Adani.
"When they told me that they had shortlisted Townsville and Rockhampton for the FIFO hub, I suggested they establish hubs in both centre," she said.
"At the end of the day, that is a decision for Adani to make.
"My priority is to ensure the jobs are for regional Queensland."
Adani was given the opportunity to comment but did not respond.
Winning margins in 2015:
Member for Townsville Scott Stewart (ALP): 11.38%
Member for Mundingbura Coralee O'Rourke (ALP): 5.52%
Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper (ALP): 11.08%
Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga (ALP): 9.6%
Member for Burdekin Dale Last (LNP): 5.76%
Member for Whitsunday Jason Costigan (LNP): 0.76%
Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert (ALP): 24.78%
Member for Mirani Jim Pearce (ALP): 9.64%
Member for Rockhampton Bill Byrne (ALP): 27.74%
(Source: Two Candidate Results after Distribution of Preferences)