State election candidates need to deliver for the Sunshine Coast says Mayor

With the 2020 State election just six weeks away, the Australian economy officially in recession and communities staring down the barrel of a long and challenging road to recovery, candidates need to be putting forward a clear, coherent and deliverable plan for a new future.

That’s the message from Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson as he released Council’s priorities for the region – which he is calling on all parties and candidates to commit to prior to October 31.

“Never before has a State election been more critical for the future of Queensland and for the future of our Sunshine Coast,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“Seeking a clear plan for the future should not be a hard ask – but unfortunately for our Sunshine Coast, it is something that has so far been lacking from the political parties and candidates contesting the State election.

“Not only is our region needing to recover from the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is also dealing with the implications of a long legacy of under investment by successive State governments of both major parties, in the core infrastructure needs of our Sunshine Coast.

“Without a doubt, maintaining the liveability of our region is a high priority for our 340,000 residents.

“However, our liveability and the productivity of our region’s economy are under threat, given the lack of firm, funded commitments to deliver on the State’s infrastructure responsibilities in our region.

“Our council has done a lot of the heavy lifting to strengthen our region’s economy by delivering major region-shaping infrastructure and providing a platform for wider scale industry investment and associated jobs growth.

“What is long overdue however, is a corresponding commitment to address those matters which are the State’s infrastructure responsibilities on the Sunshine Coast – no matter who is in government.

“For our region to respond strongly and be well positioned for the future as the Sunshine Coast continues to grow, we need a plan from whomever forms government after 31 October 2020 that delivers enduring economic recovery that is sustainable and responsive to the lifestyle values of our residents.

“That plan needs to be supported by clear investment commitments relating to the State’s responsibilities.”

Mayor Jamieson said council was not advocating a long shopping list of unreasonable or unjustified funding and policy commitments, but was seeking:

1.    a clear plan for economic recovery that builds and shapes the future resilience and prosperity of our Sunshine Coast

2.    a commitment that the next government will step up and take responsibility for delivering the State’s critical infrastructure responsibilities in this region – particularly in the areas of road and public transport – within the next five years and

3.    a modest range of policy commitments – some of which won’t cost the State anything – but will go a long way to helping to preserve the liveability of our Sunshine Coast as it grows to over 518,000 people in the next 20 years.

“Our council will work with whomever forms government after October 31 to achieve these objectives,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“From our perspective this is not about politics.

“In fact, if anything, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that the time for political rhetoric and one-upmanship is well and truly over.

“For our council, the commitments we are seeking at this State Election are about the future of our residents, our communities and our region – and enhancing our Sunshine Coast’s already significant contribution to the Queensland economy.”

Council is seeking the following 10 specific commitments from the political parties and candidates contesting the 2020 State election:

·         Provide statutory protection – by primary legislation – to preserve and maintain the Regional Inter-Urban Break.

·         Endorse Council’s submission to UNESCO for the region to secure a Biosphere designation.

·         Confirm the State’s contribution to, and deliver, the expansion of the Bruce Highway from Steve Irwin Way at Beerburrum to the Caloundra Road Interchange by 2025.

·         Address the $230 million funding shortfall for the duplication of the North Coast Rail Line from Beerburrum to Landsborough.

·         Maintain the existing $7.5 million commitment to deliver the detailed business case for Stage 1 of the Mass Transit solution by December 2022, with the Department of Transport and Main Roads to lead the development of the detailed business case.

·         Subject to the outcome of the business case for the Mooloolah River Interchange upgrade (which is due to be completed by December 2020), commit to fund and deliver this critical project within the next term of government.

·         Contribute $20 million towards the $68 million required to deliver stage 1 of the expansion of the Sunshine Coast Stadium (to be matched by the Federal Government).

·         Provide $100 million (to be matched by the Federal Government) to deliver the $226 million Sunshine Coast Convention and Exhibition facility by 2023-2024.

·         Provide policy and regulatory support for the Sunshine Coast to position itself as a Digital Trade Hub.

·         Commit to finalise a City Deal for south east Queensland by the end of July 2021 and support the development of the candidature file (ie. bid) to host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Queensland.