Cairns MP can't get answers on North Qld issues

Annastacia Palaszczuk's minority Labor government is safe – at the minute – but frustrated Cairns Labor MP Rob Pyne finds it "appalling" he cannot get replies to basic grassroots issues in his electorate.

Mr Pyne batted away media enquiries all Wednesday, while continually trying to speak with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk about his concerns.

Rob Pyne MP - raised  a number of local Cairns issues not being addressed.
Rob Pyne MP - raised a number of local Cairns issues not being addressed.  Photo: File photo

He confirmed he will not leave the ALP.

However Mr Pyne raised four basic issues as examples of what he is still waiting on answers to:

Education Minister Kate Jones and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk under fire as Cairns MP Rob Pyne asks about funding for ...
Education Minister Kate Jones and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk under fire as Cairns MP Rob Pyne asks about funding for Cairns State High School. Photo: Drew Creighton

-          Can government fund an all-weather cover for an assembly area at Cairns State High School?

-          Will government fund the Cairns' Manoora Community Centre after March 2016? The centre is close to a Cairns house where eight children died late in 2014.


-          Can a community development worker be found for Cairns West?

-          How to tackle Cairns' unemployment of 10 per cent, while Brisbane's jobless rate is 4 per cent.

He said he had written "numerous letters and emails" about these subjects and in some cases had not even received a reply.

Mr Pyne spoke with Ms Palaszczuk on Wednesday afternoon.

A spokesperson for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the conversation was positive.

"The government is definitely now looking into these issues," a spokesman said.

Mr Pyne said Queenslanders did not understand the big variations across a decentralised Queensland.

"I have the unemployment figures here in front of me and you are looking at Cairns with over 10 per cent unemployment, with 20 per cent youth unemployment," he said.

"And obviously some of your MPs in the Brisbane area are experiencing unemployment of four per cent."

Cairns has 10,000 indigenous residents.

"So the issues are different. And this is unique to Queensland. Quite often, people in other state's don't get it, but we are a decentralised state."

"And if you want to be a state, well that involves investing in your regions.

"I just think we are struggling in a two-speed economy and we don't want to be left behind in getting the same sort of services that many other Queenslanders take for granted."

Mr Pyne disagreed with the approach of seeking one big project to kickstart the region.

"People believe that a big project will kick-off and that will fix everything," he said.

Mr Pyne said it was clear parts of the Cairns region's labour force needed retraining.

"Well there are people in Cairns, particularly in West Cairns, who are just not jobs-ready.

"So what I want to see is an investment in West Cairns in community training."

Mr Pyne said he is unable to learn if the government plans to continue funding for the Manoora Community Centre in Cairns. The money ends in March 2016.

"I think we should be making sure that the Manoora Community Centre is funded," he said.

"And not just a community centre with a door open, but somewhere where we have a community officer doing outreach in the West Cairns community."

Mr Pyne acknowledged many of his concerns were basic grassroots concerns, but he has heard nothing from the respective portfolios.

"What the principal of Cairns State High School wants is an undercover assembly area where all the students can assemble at the one assembly," he said.

"I've sent numerous letters and emails and one poor old principal said to me, 'I'm going to be blasted in the media again because some student can't attended Anzac Day."

Mr Pyne did not immediately support Townsville-based Mundingburra MP, Coralee O'Rourke, who is Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's Minister for North Queensland.

He said Cairns people questioned Townsville and Palm Island as the NDIS trial site in Queensland.

"I'm a first-term MP and Coralee is a first-term minister," Mr Pyne said.

"And I would like to see actual things happening in Cairns, rather than just roundtables," he said.

"But I am encouraged that the ministry seem to be listening to us."

Rob Katter on Wednesday said a North Queensland independent voting bloc was emerging.

Mr Pyne said he would not join Katter's Australian Party.

"I see a lot of what Robbie does and it is quite noble and I agree with a lot of his policies," Mr Pyne said.

"But some of them I don't."

"So, I don't see that as an option."

Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg said Mr Pyne was simply expressing the frustration in his Cairns electorate.

"I think the government should be listening to Mr Pyne," he said.

"What you have got here is growing frustration from one of their most influential backbenchers  about their own government, that is not listening."

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