Andrew Powell MP
Speeches

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Mr POWELL (Glass House—LNP) (10.53 pm): Tonight I would like to address two pressing matters in the electorate of Glass House. Over the past two days I have tabled a written petition with 1,273 signatures and an e-petition with a further 282 signatures seeking the assistance of the state government in delivering a new indoor aquatic centre for Maleny. At the outset, I acknowledge the hard work of Maleny Swimming Club’s Kim Easton in driving this petition.
Maleny, the regional hub for much of the Sunshine Coast hinterland, is in desperate need of a new pool. The current pool at the Maleny State School was built through community fundraising some 30 years ago. At that time it was considered quite an achievement. Unfortunately, by modern standards the pool is small. Competing butterfly swimmers clash arms. The area where the pool is located is landlocked with no room to expand. It creates a traffic nightmare, with no allocated parking area. The pool is also uncovered, meaning that it is closed for nearly half the year. Maleny deserves better.
After years of council studies it was determined that the schoolgrounds remain the best location for an upgraded facility. For the past two years I have been working tirelessly with the principal of Maleny State School, John Byrne; Trevor Schultz from Education Queensland; Belinda Walker from TMR; Councillor Jenny McKay and her council officers; and with Kim Easton from the swimming club to find a solution. I want to take a moment to applaud and commend John and Trevor in particular. Their willingness to consider community partnerships and to make this happen is so refreshing and so appreciated, and we are nearly there. This petition confirms the community’s desire for this happen. I trust that the education minister will be as supportive as her departmental staff of this process and assist in ensuring that the land can be transferred to the Sunshine Coast Regional Council.
The second matter that I want to raise also relates to education. Recently, the minister and shadow minister for education, as well as the member for Nicklin, would have received a submission from Mrs Alison Donaldson of Palmwoods. Alison has written on behalf of a significant number of parents and residents of Palmwoods, Woombye, Chevallum and Montville calling for a new high school to be planned and built in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, ideally at Palmwoods. The residential heart of the lower Sunshine Coast hinterland used to be Nambour. That is why there are two high schools in that town. But as farms have been subdivided, families have progressively moved into the communities around Palmwoods.
Alison received survey responses from over 500 families and in analysing the responses found that the resounding majority of them would use a local high school. Through careful analysis, Alison has revealed that, if a new high school were built, it would have minimal impacts on existing schools as students are currently attending some 13 different high schools. Alison’s effort are exhaustive I will not table all of the responses, but I will table the letter and key survey results.
Tabled paper: Bundle of documents regarding proposal for Sunshine Coast Hinterland High School.
Mrs Donaldson concludes her letter with the following—
Our survey results indicate within two or three years we would have sufficient students to fill a 700 student high school and … we would urge you to listen to our community and move forward towards the creation of a Hinterland High School.
I say to the minister that Alison and I genuinely look forward to receiving her response.

Click here to see the video of my speech- http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-assembly/broadcast-chamber/archive?file=20150715_225415

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Mr POWELL (Glass House—LNP) (12.23 pm): The events of last Friday left an indelible mark on the electorate of Glass House. Tragically, that mark is very physical and tangible in the loss of four local lives. It is very physical and obvious in the damage to homes and infrastructure. But it is also a very emotional mark, too, in the pained faces of those who have lost loved ones, their homes and belongings, or their livelihoods.

I must begin by acknowledging the four constituents of Glass House who, distressingly, lost their lives: 74-year-old Tony McDonald, his five-year-old grandson, Tyler, and Tyler’s 39-year-old mother, Tamra, who were swept away from a road north of Caboolture. Shortly behind them, 49-year-old Emmett O’Brien and his son Keegan and stepdaughter Tegan were swept away at the same location, Miraculously, Keegan and Tegan survived and were rescued. Emmett, Tony, Tamra and young Tyler perished in the floodwaters.

For the small community of Elimbah the loss is incredibly real and incredibly painful. All four people had connections to the Elimbah State School. Emmett was a former parent. For Tyler and his family, the connection was far more present. Tyler started prep this year and I am informed that, after some initial teething issues, he was having an absolute ball. When I spoke to acting principal

Mrs Tracy Sharpe early yesterday morning, it is clear that the school community is suffering, but equally I thank the education department for wrapping an amazing level of support around the students, teachers, administrators, parents and the broader community. To Mrs Sharpe, if there is more that we can do, please do not hesitate to ask.

I must also acknowledge the passing of Mr Robert Leong at Burpengary that same afternoon. I grew up in Burpengary. My parents still live there and as recently as this morning I drove past the site that claimed Mr Leong’s life. If members know the area, it will give them a very poignant demonstration of the size and ferocity of that flash flooding.

Each of these tragic deaths will also serve as an enduring reminder: if it is flooded, forget it. I say to people: please, please, please heed the warnings. Resist the temptation to cross flooded creeks. It is simply not worth it. The price may be more than people can humanly afford.

On Saturday morning, I was able to safely venture out and check on the welfare of locals who I know from previous experience would have been impacted by the intense rainfall and flash flooding. I met Taryn and Stephen on Flowers Road at Caboolture. They had already been at the clean-up for several hours, their child blissfully playing in the puddles and among their belongings drying to the sun. For them, Friday’s deluge surprised them with its intensity and how quickly the water rose and dissipated. Life will continue for Taryn and Stephen, but I will be working with the Moreton Bay Regional Council to ensure that a roadside rubbish collection happens quickly.

I met Steve and Donna Smith on Male Road, Caboolture, and Steve’s aunt, Diane, the property owner. Water had roared through the house at thigh height, so everything they owned is destroyed or is going to take money and time to repair. Following a visit from Energex yesterday it has been confirmed that the house is unsafe to reside in. The challenge is that Donna is 32 weeks pregnant and is now in search of a home. Thankfully, they have been paid a visit by Red Cross and, hopefully, support will kick in shortly. On that note, I acknowledge this morning’s declaration of the Male Road, Dances Road and Flowers Road communities so that residents such as Taryn and Stephen and Donna and Steve can now access the assistance that they so desperately require.

Friday’s torrential rain also impacted on the farmers of the Glass House electorate. Yesterday, I spoke with Peter Young, a strawberry farmer from Glass House Mountains. He and his farmhands are furiously trying to save what they can of 100,000 strawberry plants. In his words, the whole hill has come away and slid towards the creek and it has taken the plants and plastic with it. Even if Peter is able to save his strawberries, he is now a least a month behind the eight ball. By the time they are ready to pick the strawberries, the season may be over. Again, I say to the Premier and Minister for Agriculture to please consider the plight of farmers from Beerwah to Caboolture in their disaster declarations as the floods could not have come at a worse time. I ask them to please provide them with the assistance that they as a government can.

Before I conclude, I would like to touch briefly on a matter that I believe will need further investigation. My office and I have been inundated by stories of commuters left stranded on Friday night. At the outset, let me acknowledge that the decision to stay off the roads was made by someone other than the transport minister. I also appreciate the need for Transport to look after the safety and wellbeing of its own staff. However, there have been many stories that tell me that we could have done more. In one instance, commuters were left at the Petrie station. They were told to alight from the train and stood shivering in the rain for four hours. We could have let them back on the train. It was still there. It is a matter that I will take up with the appropriate minister in due course.

 

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PRIVILEGE

Alleged Deliberate Misleading of the House by a Member

Mr POWELL (Glass House—LNP) (9.32 am): During his first speech the member for Pumicestone, Mr Rick Williams, made the following statements—

The Bribie Island Bridge always comes up … The former member for Pumicestone said she had done a feasibility study but had not released it to the public … I cannot understand why it would be kept secret … There has been no public consultation as to where the bridge might be best situated and which roads would be affected.

A quick perusal of the Transport and Main Roads website will bring you to the Bribie Island Bridge corridor study page which, lo and behold, includes links to both the Bribie Island Bridge corridor study report and the Bribie Island Bridge preferred corridor report. The Brisbane Times on 3 September 2014 reported the release of the feasibility study and even included a link to that study.

Mr Speaker, I believe it is clear that the member for Pumicestone, Mr Rick Williams, has deliberately misled parliament. I will be writing to you asking that you refer the member to the Ethics Committee.

270 Speaker’s Statements 5 May 2015

Mr SPEAKER: Thank you, member for Glass House. I look forward to receiving your letter.

 

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In addition to various roadside posts, I have spent some time at the Maleny Kiosk and the Pre-Poll or early voting centres around the Glass House electorate during the past week.  It was great to see how many people are now taking advantage of being able to cast their votes early.

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While in the Southern part of the electorate this week I also dropped in to discuss the importance of growing the economy, creating jobs and boosting apprenticeships with Glass House constituents Richard and Paula Shilling – owners of Caboolture-based steel fabrication business Jaspa Engineering (check out www.jaspaengineering.com.au).

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