PM to fly the flag in Qld’s Labor heartland
Green shoots were poking through the red earth at Bunginderry Station in Quilpie when Scott Morrison stopped by, just over two years after his first visit when there was little but dirt and dust.
It is no accident that Mr Morrison is retracing the steps of his first trip as prime minister, getting to regional areas of Queensland delivered him the 2019 election and where disaffected voters can turn to minor parties like One Nation.
Today he will head to a mine in central Queensland, an area once Labor's domain.
His renewed blitz has already taken in Longreach, Quilpie, Winton and Cloncurry in day one of a four-day trip, covering a lot of ground after COVID has kept him grounded.
It comes ahead of August, the earliest he can call an election this year, but also while the open borders allow travel ahead of the parliamentary year beginning early next month.
Wearing a baseball cap given to him on that first trip, taken three days after becoming prime minister, Mr Morrison saw the full dam on graziers Stephen and Annabell Tully's Quilpie property.
"I would hate to have you thinking that, you know, we live in a place of, of dirt, not only of dirt, of dust," Mr Tully said.
"Because the horizon on that day was just dust as far as you can see, and now we've got the classic crystal clear air."
Mr Tully said it was government funding for dog fencing that saved the farm, preventing packs of wild animals attacking their sheep, even as the drought has lingered with just one good downpour filling his dam just after Christmas.
Mr Morrison said rain and funding had only been part of the gradual recovery felt by some parts of the region.
"The main ingredient has been the resilience and has been the resourcefulness and has been the optimism and hope of the people themselves," he said.
"I've been wanting to come back for some time, I've been getting reports but I wanted to see it.
"It's really quite moving to see how the communities have sustained themselves."
But he acknowledged there were many parts of the state still hurting as the drought lingers and rains reach some properties but not all.
"Depending on where you are the story is different. But we're not out of drought yet," Mr Morrison said.
"I think we're on the better side of the whole, but it goes in cycles."
Mr Morrison met with mayors of Longreach, Quilpie, Barcoo, Balone, Murweh and Winton, farmers, truck drivers, checked out the saleyard at Winton and ducked into the pub at Cloncurry.
Originally published as PM to fly the flag in Qld's Labor heartland