O'Dowd quizzed at Moura meeting
FEDERAL Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd paid a visit to Moura last Monday, hosting a community morning tea at the Moura Museum and Information Centre.
More than a dozen people turned out to touch base with the local MP, who is in the middle of fighting a tough re-election campaign against ALP candidate Zac Beers.
The residents of the tight-knit community spoke with one voice as they raised a list of issues with Mr O'Dowd, including a proposed aged-care facility attached to Moura Hospital, the funding shortfall faced by the Moura Miners' Memorial, irrigators' access to water reserves and the federal government's so-called 'backpacker tax'.
But while the MP was sympathetic to a lot of the issues raised and agreed with much of what was said, he did not announce any new federal funding for projects in Flynn.
"We've been plagued with NDRAA (National Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements)... eight years of floods and four years of droughts recently," he said.
Mr O'Dowd also spoke about the difficulty of dealing with issues such as establishing aged care facilities when aged care was run by the Federal Government and hospitals were run by state governments.
"I'm trying to get the minister up here so he can sit down with the committees and go through all your issues (as to) how you get funding. If you're in a state hospital like you are here… it's one of those grey areas… as to who does what first," he said after speaking to Deborah Elliott, who led the fight to retain inpatient services at Moura Hospital.
"If you are born in Moura and your kids (are) in Moura, and you've worked on properties or worked in the coal mines, you really want to spend your retirement years back here in Moura.
"And this is where (governments are) struggling everywhere to make facilities (available) for the aged," said Mr O'Dowd.
John Walker, of the Moura Community Progress Association, raised the issue of the Moura Miners' Memorial's $200,000 funding shortfall, saying the project when completed would serve as more than a memorial site but also as a tourist attraction which could deliver a much-needed boost to the local economy.
"I went down to the river the other day and there's 34 caravans parked there right now. So there's a huge drive market and… they're driving straight through, not even stopping," said Mr Walker.
Mr O'Dowd said that while he was personally in favour of the project, processes such as Regional Development Australia funding applications were designed to prevent MPs' pet projects from being favoured for government spending as funds were tight across the board.
Facing the prospect of a tough council budget, Banana Shire division 5 councillor Brooke Leo raised the issue of past federal politicians' generous benefits schemes.
"It stinks. A pensioner is flat out getting $200 a week to live on… when you stop being a public servant, you (should) stop being a public servant," she said.
"I always like to listen to what the people have to say - all they brought up was very legitimate," Mr O'Dowd told the Central Telegraph.
"All it needs is... funding to get some of these projects up. Everyone knows they won't come up all at once, we just have to keep ticking them off.
"I know the issues but I have to relay those issues on to the government."
Mr O'Dowd said he was in the middle of a tough election fight, and declined to claim any advantage over challenger Zac Beers given the ALP candidate's young age.
"We've got a bloke by the name of Wyatt Roy, he was something like (twenty) when he started," said Mr O'Dowd.