BACKING BUSINESSES: Katie Dawes, the daughter of Grandma's Groceries and Coffee Shop owner Susan Bruce, with Senator Pauline Hanson.
BACKING BUSINESSES: Katie Dawes, the daughter of Grandma's Groceries and Coffee Shop owner Susan Bruce, with Senator Pauline Hanson. Contributed

Pauline Hanson demands more for town struggling to survive

SENATOR Pauline Hanson has seen first-hand the struggles of a Central Queensland town fighting for survival.

Ms Hanson met with Marlborough business owners to talk about the impact on the town following the purchase of more than 17 farming properties by Defence to accommodate an expanding facility for military training.

The One Nation leader has called on the Federal Government to provide urgent support to the township and has written to Defence Minister Linda Reynolds seeking billboard signs that would guide motorists travelling between Rockhampton and Mackay into the small town.

"Up to 6000 cars drive past Marlborough each day and sadly because there is no signage, most would be unaware of the struggling business community in the township," Ms Hanson said.

"Without adequate signage, many of these Marlborough businesses will slowly lose their viability and eventually the domino effect will take place, wiping the town out altogether."

The historic railway town also provides a vital SES service run by local volunteers.

"The government have clearly disregarded the significance this community offers to firefighting and other emergency responses along the Bruce Highway," Ms Hanson said.

"If the Morrison Government ignores the importance these people offer to the Central Queensland region, it will place greater pressure on Rockhampton services.

"A number of billboards on approach to Marlborough from both directions would alert motorists to the town and bolster the number of visitors in lieu of those locals who have voluntarily sold to the Defence Force."

 

Rockhampton MP and Queensland Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne, Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig and Queensland Senator and One Nation Party Leader Pauline Hanson
Rockhampton MP and Queensland Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne, Livingstone mayor Bill Ludwig and One Nation Party leader Pauline Hanson. Kerri-Anne Mesner

Grandma's Groceries and Coffee Shop owner Susan Bruce said the business was on the brink of closing before she took over two months ago.

Determined not to see the store close, Ms Bruce said she worked seven days a week, 12-14 hours a day trying to keep afloat.

"I have got to try and make a living too, but business is slow," she said. "I can't live in a town without a shop.

"Country Australia is disappearing and country towns are getting smaller."

Following the buy-up of more than 17 farming properties by Defence, Ms Bruce, who is also president of the Marlborough Museum, said she was concerned.

"I am concerned for the history, the community and the school," she said.

"What is going to be left?

"Marlborough is only one kilometre from the highway. We are a rest stop."

She said she felt no one was listening.

"When those letters were first sent to the property owners saying we are buying your land, they sent counsellors from Lifeline and of course no one saw them," she said.

"We just had a Catholic church shut down, what is that telling us?

"The community is just not being informed and I think that is what is upsetting people.

"It's the people that are going to be left."

Ms Bruce said it wasn't just Marlborough that was affected, but Stanage Bay and Ogmore too.

She said billboard signs guiding motorists travelling between Rockhampton and Mackay into the historic railway town would make a difference.

"The museum is 30 years old and community-owned and managed," she said.

"There are other little places - there's the pub and the caravan parks.

"With this money that's been around, why aren't they putting something back into these little communities?"

Ms Bruce said there needed to be better communication moving forward.

"If there's a meeting, let people know," she said.

 

an armoured vehicle at Shoalwater Bay.
An armoured vehicle at Shoalwater Bay. Allan Reinikka ROK230618ashoalwa

Ms Hanson successfully lobbied the Turnbull Government to overturn its compulsory acquisition of Marlborough properties in 2017.

Those families who have chosen to sell to the Defence Force have done so of their own free will.

Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said she had fought tooth and nail to ensure Central Queenslanders got their fair share out of the massive project.

"The results are already showing with millions in early works contracts being awarded to local businesses," she said.

"This means this project is already delivering jobs for Central Queenslanders and with a long way to go yet, we are all looking forward to the transformative effect this major project will have on our region's economy.

"If Senator Hanson believes a billboard will be more effective than hundreds of millions worth in local contracts in growing the local economy, she is welcome to pursue it."

Ms Reynolds said she welcomed Senator Hanson's interest and would continue to speak with Ms Landry.

"The expansion of the Shoalwater Bay Training Area provides a significant economic opportunity for the Central Queensland region, including the town of Marlborough," Ms Reynolds said.

"This project will provide jobs and training opportunities for many years to come and the Department of Defence will continue to pay close attention to ensure locals are getting their fair share."