Thursday, 6 December 2018
As the 2018 calendar year draws to a close, here in parliament I have the opportunity to be the last to address the House for this year. I was interested—quite impressed, in fact—to see the Toowoomba Chronicle newspaper reveal just yesterday that Toowoomba and the surrounding area's gross regional product hit $10.81 billion in 2017-18, marking a growth rate of some 4.5 per cent. Our mayor, Toowoomba Regional Council Mayor Paul Antonio, recognises these figures that The Chronicle reports as being essentially double the national and state averages for economic growth. He said:
The latest figures are extremely encouraging and demonstrate how the Toowoomba Region continues to raise a high bar, not just throughout Queensland, but also nationally …
I reflect upon that impressive result, those impressive figures, those nation-leading figures, from my region, and I reflect on the infrastructure that's been put in under private investment and certainly public investment, particularly from the coalition government here in Canberra.
There is the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing, nearing completion in the coming months. There is inland rail, which promises to be a boon not only for our region but for the entire region from Melbourne to Brisbane, and there are the export and import opportunities that that provides, particularly for farmers throughout Victoria, New South Wales and, of course, Queensland. The James Street culverts in my town of Toowoomba are all about a recent investment from the federal government to complete the jigsaw puzzle, if you like, to prevent the sorts of floods we saw in 2011 that took life away in our city. There are the mobile black spot towers throughout our region. There is the continued upgrade to the Warrego Highway, the LifeFlight helicopter base investment on behalf of the federal government and of course the RSPCA centre to be developed in Toowoomba—a real resource for southern Queensland, not only our own region.
Beyond that infrastructure investment, I've reflected upon business throughout our community, business certainly in the Toowoomba city and also that developing in Highfields, in Cambooya, and of course in Greenmount, where I've been working with small businesses just in recent months. I reflect upon the efforts of the FKG Group and particularly the Pulse Data Centre—which promises, in fact, tens of thousands of jobs, given what it will generate in our community in the coming decades—and of course the Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport, which has been developed in recent years. It is the first to be developed—in this case, a private development—for many, many decades.
I reflect on our wonderful education sector: the University of Southern Queensland, with the main campus in Toowoomba; the southern Queensland TAFE, in Toowoomba as well; and most particularly our wonderful schools, our primary schools and our secondary schools, some of which are boarding schools serving not only northern New South Wales but southern Queensland as well.
I reflect on our traditional agricultural industries: grain, cotton, beef—the processing and the export activities in beef in particular in our region—and, of course, other intensive horticulture and livestock production as well. I reflect on our expanding services sector—aged care in particular for our region—energy, resources, the Acland coalmine and what's happening in terms of gas in our region, solar in our region and wind in our region. We have all of those technologies in and around Toowoomba.
I reflect in particular on small business, and I am so pleased to be part of a government that is focused on small business. It's those small and family businesses, well over 16,000 of them in the electorate of Groom, that are the heart and soul of our community, the main employers collectively in our community. They are supported by the Oakey Chamber of Commerce, the Pittsworth District Alliance, the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce and Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise. They, like the rest of our community, will step up with the challenges going forward: finalising inland rail, drought, PFAS contamination and getting the NDIS right for those who need it.
Finally, I recognise at the end of the day the community. We are refugee focused. We're a refugee-friendly city. We've got more work to do there in terms of funding; there's no doubt about that. I recognise the schools that I've mentioned and our health sector in particular. The fact that our community came together so well just recently for Remembrance Day, right across the region, shows that we really do reflect on those who went before us and those who fought for our region. Toowoomba, the Darling Downs and the Groom electorate extend their regards to the rest of Australia at Christmas, and, Mr Speaker, I do the same to you.
House adjourned at 17:00