AT THE POLLS: Warwick residents will cast their votes on Saturday. Photo: Marian Faa
AT THE POLLS: Warwick residents will cast their votes on Saturday. Photo: Marian Faa

STATE ELECTION 2020: Your must-read guide before voting

THE 2020 State Election is only a week away, with the countdown on until Warwick residents head to the polling booths to cast their votes.

The Warwick Daily News wants to keep its readers up-to-date with each Southern Downs candidate’s campaigns, pledges, and what our region needs to see from its elected representative.

Below, you’ll find a full breakdown of residents’ and the council’s wishlist, each candidate’s election promises, and the most contentious issues so far.

WHAT WARWICK WANTS

Earlier this month, the Warwick Daily News asked residents what their most urgent priorities were this State Election.

Our readers made it clear their top concerns remained water security, tourism, and upgrades to infrastructure.

Reviving a tourism industry decimated by event cancellations and prolonged border closures, along with COVID-19 economic recovery and healthcare.

Click here for the full breakdown.

SOUTHERN DOWNS REGIONAL COUNCIL’S WISHLIST

In SDRC’s “Speaking up for the Southern Downs” document, creating new regional water alliances and cross-border solutions remained at the top of the council’s funding wishlist.

Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi said upgrades to the region’s ageing infrastructure would also be paramount, with the ratepayer sponge being squeezed “tighter and tighter”.

Click here for the full story.

STATE ELECTION: How do our Southern Downs candidates priorities compare?
STATE ELECTION: How do our Southern Downs candidates priorities compare?

CANDIDATES’ ELECTION PROMISES

Cross-border commissioner

Incumbent Member for Southern Downs James Lister made an election promise to instate a “cross-border commissioner” if an LNP government is voted in.

Mr Lister said the new role would be a “single point of contact” for border communities, helping residents from towns such as Killarney, Stanthorpe, and Goondiwindi resolve issues surrounding prolonged border closures.

Free tertiary education

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk promised this week a re-elected Labor government would provide more young people with free TAFE and apprenticeships.

Southern Downs Labor candidate Joel Richters said young people across the Warwick area would be able to access free training in aged care, engineering, health, and another 160 priority qualifications.

Mr Richters also hinted at upgrades to the Warwick TAFE campus if elected.

Southern Downs’ $300 rego rebate

Southern Downs motorists will be offered a $300 registration refund in an election promise Mr Lister said could support local jobs.

All Queensland registered car owners will be eligible for the rebate if the LNP forms government, though Mr Lister hoped residents would spend the extra cash in the local economy.

$5.8 million upgrades for Warwick school

The Labor government also pledged a massive $5.8 million in upgrades to Warwick State High School, should they reform government this election.

Education Minister Grace Grace told the Daily News the funding would go towards a state-of-the-art multipurpose hall worth over $5 million, alongside a disability access project for the school’s amenities.

Ms Grace estimated the projects could create up to 19 jobs.

SDSR president Peter Gilbert with Member for Southern Downs James Lister to celebrate funding boost.
SDSR president Peter Gilbert with Member for Southern Downs James Lister to celebrate funding boost.

Funding pledge to regional tourism

In an attempt to revive a tourism industry decimated by event cancellations and border closures, Mr Lister pledged a $100,000 donation to the Southern Downs Steam Railway.

The six-figure grant would go toward an extra steam engine, which Mr Lister said would help the organisation bring flocks of tourists to the Southern Downs.

SOUTHERN DOWNS’ KEY DEBATES

Future of Emu Swamp Dam

Several candidates clashed over the progress of Emu Swamp Dam and broader water security for the Southern Downs, one of the most contentious issues this State Election.

Labor candidate Mr Richters told the Daily News if elected, he would continue to support extensive funding for water infrastructure, including $13.6 million for Emu Swamp Dam and $4 million to replace pipelines from Storm King Dam.

LNP candidate Mr Lister has said he would launch a string of water projects, most notably the establishment of Queensland Dam Company, as well as a commitment to bringing “new water” into the region.

One Nation candidate Rosemary Moulden had similar objectives, with a commitment to supporting Emu Swamp Dam construction locally as a means of creating jobs in agriculture and related industries.

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party candidate Malcolm Richardson did not name a specific policy, instead advocating for widespread dam creation across the region.

Legalise Cannabis Qld candidate Deborah Waldron was also contacted, but did not respond by the Daily News’ deadline.

United Workers Union Delegate Melanie Alderton with Labor candidate for Southern Downs Joel Richters and Dental Assistants from Warwick Hospital.
United Workers Union Delegate Melanie Alderton with Labor candidate for Southern Downs Joel Richters and Dental Assistants from Warwick Hospital.

Fiery debate on healthcare spending

Speaking outside Warwick Hospital earlier this month, Labor candidate Mr Richters promised to protect frontline jobs, referencing the 4400 industry cuts under the former Newman Government.

LNP opponent Mr Lister was quick to hit back, saying an LNP government would match Labor’s promise with no forced redundancies in any public service, including health employees.

One Nation candidate Ms Moulden was also contacted for comment, but failed to respond by the Daily News’ deadline at this time.

To find out the surprising amount each Southern Downs candidate spent on social media advertising, click here.

To see LNP’s Mr Lister, Labor’s Mr Richters, and One Nation’s Ms Moulden tackle some of these key issues in a live debate, click here to watch the full replay.

For a full breakdown of how to vote early, click here.