Andrew reflects on two years as Federal Member for Fisher
It will be two years on Monday since Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace was first elected to Parliament. Mr Wallace has in that time delivered more than $3.6 billion in Federal funding for the Coast, given 211 speeches in Parliament, attended almost 500 meetings and events in the electorate of Fisher, and brought Federal Ministers, including the Prime Minister, to the Coast 23 times.
Mr Wallace reflected on the unprecedented Federal funding flowing into Sunshine Coast infrastructure. He said “For decades people living on the Coast have rightly felt that we were not getting a fair deal from the Federal Government. I am proud to say that in the past two years we have put an end to that perception and delivered the fair funding deal the Coast deserves.”
During Mr Wallace’s first two years, the Sunshine Coast has seen $3.13 billion delivered for upgrades to the Bruce Highway between the Coast and Brisbane. In the past 12 months alone, an extra $880 million has been allocated for upgrades between Caloundra and Pine Rivers, $800 million put toward the Cooroy to Curra Section D project, and $150 million invested in the vital north Brisbane interchanges.
Mr Wallace said “My number one priority since I was elected has been to make a difference to the dangerous and congested Bruce Highway. We can already see the outcomes of our first twelve months working for local residents in the highway upgrades now being built at the Caloundra Road intersection. With the extra funding we have secured in this second year we should see the works to build a safer, faster three lane Bruce Highway all the way to Brisbane begin very soon.”
Mr Wallace also highlighted the Federal Government’s support for rail on the Sunshine Coast. He said “I have always said that we are kidding ourselves if we think Bruce Highway upgrades alone will solve our region’s transport issues. That’s why we worked hard to deliver $390 million in Federal funding to duplicate the railway line between Beerburrum and Landsborough. However, the Commonwealth has gone further in the last twelve months and paid for the creation of a planning study into high speed rail for the Coast which would connect Nambour, Maroochydore, and Caloundra to Brisbane in less than 45 minutes.”
Mr Wallace said: “My personal mission is to help to make the Sunshine Coast the place to be for education, employment and retirement.”
In education, Mr Wallace has delivered $200,000 in support for early childhood education at Helping Hands Beerwah, Helping Hands Landsborough, and Kidz Bizz at Glenview State School, while the Government’s reforms to childcare will make 5,795 eligible families in Fisher up to $1,333 a year better off per child from this coming financial year. The Federal Government also provided $1 million this year to local organisation IFYS to support homeless students aged 12-18 on the Coast. This is in addition to the commitment of $266 million in extra funding for the 35 schools in Fisher and the placements needed for a medical school at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital delivered in 2017.
In support of employment, the Government’s job creating tax cuts have benefitted more than 20,000 businesses in Fisher, and helped to lead to a low employment rate of 5.1% in the electorate, when the national unemployment rate is 5.5%. More than 60,000 working Australians in Fisher will also benefit by up to $530 a year from the Government’s Personal Income Tax plan. Mr Wallace said that he was particularly pleased with the outcomes of his Defence Industry Initiative this year.
“Companies involved in my Fisher Defence Industry Initiative have won Government contracts worth more than $3 million this year, including $1 million for Helimods to commercialise their life saving stretcher technology, and $2 million for Praesidium Global to deliver four new unmanned ground vehicles for the ADF. These businesses, and others like them, are already offering new high technology manufacturing jobs on the Coast and helping to build a defence industry hub right here.”
For retirement, the Government has delivered 140 new residential aged care placements in Fisher, which will allow for the construction of a new aged care facility in Caloundra, and Energy Assistance Payments for 27,000 pensioners in the electorate. Mr Wallace has also distributed more than $300,000 in Federal grants for community organisations like Peachester Hall, Caloundra Woodworking Club and C&K Child Care in Mooloolaba. During the past 12 months he has announced $3 million in Commonwealth funding for upgrades to the Events Centre at Caloundra which will substantially improve access for patrons with a disability.
On healthcare, Mr Wallace has built substantially on the programs delivered during his first year. He said “Following on from the $5 million we delivered for the Thompson Institute last year, we have recently announced a further $3.2 million for a pilot program to improve treatment for people with an eating disorder on the Coast. We have also secured $487,000 for young people with Autism in our community, and increased support for local branches of disability providers BUSHkids and Carers Queensland.”
The Government’s unprecedented funding for Medicare has resulted in record bulk-billing rates in Fisher, with 88.3% of visits to a GP now incurring no cost for local residents.
Mr Wallace was particularly proud of the community events he has created to better engage and inform residents on important topical issues.
“In the last year we have brought representatives of the nbn to Fisher to answer local residents’ questions. We have brought the National eSafety Commissioner to tell us more about how to stay safe online, and representatives of Google to teach local businesses how to succeed in the digital age. We have organised a Community Awards scheme to recognise locals who are giving something back, and a school debating competition to engage local youth.”
Mr Wallace intends to focus in the coming year on pushing to get the funded infrastructure works underway as soon as possible; on securing further Federal support for high speed internet access and better mobile phone coverage in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland; on supporting mental health treatment for veterans and securing Federal funding for the construction of Australia’s first residential eating disorders facility in fisher and on securing a commitment from the Council not to allow the construction of a casino on the Coast.
“I want to thank the people of Fisher for choosing me to represent them in Parliament. It is an honour to be your Federal Member and we will continue to work as hard as we possibly can to deliver the best outcomes for our community in education, employment and retirement. To do that I need to know what issues matter to local people. I welcome suggestions and feedback and encourage local people to write to my office, email or telephone me today, or come along to one of my Listening Posts next week to let me know what they think.” Mr Wallace said.
More information about Mr Wallace’s delivery for Fisher can be found at http://www.andrewwallacemp.com.au/MyWorkforFisher/DeliveredforFisher-443/