THE fate of the Beerwah to Maroochydore heavy rail line is weighing on reelected Fisher MP Andrew Wallace’s mind after the LNP were swept from power at the federal election on the weekend.
Mr Wallace was returned for a third term with a reduced margin that broadly reflected the nationwide swing of 3.6 per cent against the LNP.
With over 72 per cent of the vote counted, the LNP’s Mr Wallace held a commanding 58.4 per cent of the two-party preferred vote in Fisher despite a swing of 4.3 per cent to Labor.
Mr Wallace went into the election with a 12.7 per cent margin.
Mr Wallace told GC&M News “it is an honour to be elected once again”.
“There is no greater honour to be bestowed by your community than to be elected as your federal representative,” he said.
Having never represented the electorate in opposition, Mr Wallace said his “modus operandi” would not change and he would continue to be the “squeaky wheel” in Canberra to ensure ongoing infrastructure spending on the Coast.
While Mr Wallace had secured a federal $1.6 billion commitment for a heavy rail line between Beerwah and Maroochydore, that is now in doubt with Labor failing to commit to the project during the election.
“I’m not going to let Labor off the hook,” he said.
“I was very disappointed by Federal Labor’s unwillingness to come out publicly and support heavy rail from Beerwah to Maroochydore.”
“We’ve got the Olympics in 2032. There’s no point in getting this (heavy rail) done by 2033 and it will take eight years from planning to delivery to make it happen.
“My challenge will be to ensure, now that we have a Labor government, to keep that money flowing.”
He said he would consult with senior LNP colleagues about the best way to represent Fisher in opposition, but said his focus would be on securing “infrastructure expenditure and to ensure we get appropriate funding for roads and rail”.
“One of the greatest challenges for this area is trying to keep road, rail and community infrastructure in line with the explosion in population growth that we will experience in the coming years,” he said. Mr Wallace said there would be a review of what went wrong for the LNP broadly, but added that Labor and the Greens did not increase their margin by as much as the UAP, which spent tens of millions in advertising.
“There’s a lot of soul searching to undertake here,” he said.
“We have to ask how much of that increase to UAP is attributable to the folks of Fisher moving politics to the right or a product of Clive Palmer spending $100m in advertising.”
United Australia Party’s Fisher candidate Tony Moore gained a 3.7 per cent swing, securing 7.2 per cent of the first preference vote.
Labor secured a 1.3 per cent swing and 23.5 per cent of first preferences, while The Greens recorded a 1.1 per cent swing and 13.5 per cent.
One Nation’s Sam Schriever secured 9.4 per cent with a 0.7 per cent swing to the ONP.
While Vickie Breckenridge of the Animal Justice Party rounded out the six candidates with 2.4 per cent of the vote.