HOLDING COURT: Opposition Leader Bill Shorten hosted a rousing town meeting where locals brought plenty of issues to his attention.
HOLDING COURT: Opposition Leader Bill Shorten hosted a rousing town meeting where locals brought plenty of issues to his attention. Allan Reinikka ROK210218ashorten

Shorten shares his CQ vision to a packed town hall meeting

LOOKING around the packed room at Bill Shorten's Rockhampton town hall meeting last night, the mood for change in CQ was strong.

The town hall meeting, which hosted more than 100 people along with political personalities including Queensland Labor Senator Chris Ketter, Labor's new Capricornia candidate Russell Robertson, Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke, and previous candidate for Flynn Zac Beers, heard tale after tale about people in CQ who were hurting.

Be it the cost of living pressures, not enough jobs, not enough apprentices, not enough money for our university and Tafe, not enough money for our carers, weekend penalty rates slashed for people on minimum wage, not enough public housing, hospitals stretched to capacity, teachers struggling with bullies and miners locked out of their workplace for months on end, there were plenty of things needing fixing around this region.


"My objective is for you to have a better idea who I am but also to find out what are the key issues in CQ?" Mr Shorten said.

"People don't want politicians who come for a fly in fly out visit and then nick off.

"People are measured by what they do, not their words."

Shorten town meeting.
Shorten town meeting. Allan Reinikka ROK210218ashorten

As each person stood up and spoke of the issues important to them and challenged Mr Shorten with their best questions, the man who aspired to be Australia's next Prime Minister, attentively listened before smoothly laying out his bold plans to turn things around.

Mr Shorten, who was making his seventh visit to the region since the last election, was visibly chaffing to take reins of Australia's leadership to right all the frustrating wrongs that he was seeing from the community.

Shorten town meeting: Rebecca Hack.
Shorten town meeting: Rebecca Hack. Allan Reinikka ROK210218ashorten

He said he didn't want to wait for an election campaign to tell Central Queenslanders what he will do if he wins power.

He explained his ambitious infrastructure spending plans which included money for the Rockhampton-Yeppoon road upgrade, Rookwood Weir, South Rockhampton flood levee to boost the local economy and employment to create employment certainty with "a pipeline of work of blue collar and engineering jobs".


Mr Shorten took a jab at the Federal Government saying his promises would be paid for by not paying billions to corporations "who probably weren't paying tax anyway". On school bullying, he admitted to one angry father he didn't have a clear answer to the problem on "the top of his head" but planned to give more resources to schools and to hire more teachers.

He spoke of the importance in restoring funding to universities and TAFE to a mum who was concerned about her children's future outlook saying "we want to reverse the pendulum".


Shorten town meeting.
Shorten town meeting. Allan Reinikka ROK210218ashorten

With carers struggling financially he said "It's a big issue, it's a hard issue" but fired up saying "excuses are bulls--t, if that's the best we can do, that's not good enough given all the taxes you've paid over the years".

Talking to another lady suffering from Multiple Sclerosis about the lack of public housing, Mr Shorten estimated Australia was 200,000 houses short of where it needed to be, foreshadowing a future announcement on the issue.

Mr Shorten also bristled when he heard a man talking about how it was "morally wrong" that politicians got a pay rise two weeks after the Fair Work Commission's decision to cut penalty rates for people on minimum wages.

Shorten town meeting: Dominic Doblo.
Shorten town meeting: Dominic Doblo. Allan Reinikka ROK210218ashorten

Mr Shorten described the decision as "shocking" saying "this was a wrong decision and we will legislate to reverse this decision".

He pointed at the LNP's George Christensen and Michelle Landry who had both supported the cuts.

ALP's newly-endorsed candidate for Capricornia Russell "Robbo" Robertson had a starring role on the evening as Mr Shorten's mining issues expert.

Mr Robertson laid out his plan to take the fight to the government over the rise of casualisation and the predominance of labour hire companies and accused the current Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry of doing nothing for the region.