Tom Smith: A snapshot of campaign pledges and promises
As Bundaberg’s incoming MP gears up to take on representing the region here’s a look back at Tom Smith’s rise from local school teacher to MP.
Mr Smith was announced in May as the candidate for Bundaberg, having moved here earlier this year.
At the very start, Mr Smith said he had a passion for ensuring people had opportunities in life and was inspired by his brother who has had intellectual impairment and physical challenges throughout his life.
Mr Smith said he supported doctors and teachers and believed the controversial lowering of Paradise Dam’s wall was a valid safety precaution.
Mr Smith, at just 30, is the youngest face in local politics and while he has a history in the Wide Bay, only moved to Bundaberg this year.
From the start of his campaign, Mr Smith has been a strong supporter of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, standing by the Premier on health, education, Covid response, infrastructure and jobs.
On May 5, upon announcing his candidacy, Mr Smith said he wanted to earn the trust of locals.
As the incoming MP settles in to the news of his win, we take a look at some of Mr Smith’s campaign highlights – the plans he supports, and what he wants to see for the region.
Hospital and health
Mr Smith said he was committed to the suggested location of the new Bundaberg Hospital on the Bundaberg Ring Rd near Kay McDuff Drive.
“I want to work with the community as we deliver a brand new hospital for Bundaberg, and as we hire more frontline health staff, not sack them,” he said.
Mr Smith said Labor would hire more frontline staff over the next four years including 221 nurses, 65 doctors and 44 health professionals.
Paradise Dam and water
Mr Smith said the decisions Labor had made around the dam were for safety, and he supported them.
“You cannot have water security without water safety,” he said in October.
“Minister Lynham has stated time and again that the preferred option is to restore the 5.8m of spillway if it is safe to do so.”
Also in October, Mr Smith addressed media when Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs Minister Sterling Hinchliffe came to town to promise a $50 million investment to slash irrigation costs in the region.
“This is a really, really important announcement because it gives growers confidence at the time when they need confidence the most,” he said at the time.
Mr Smith said as he was a teacher by trade, he knew young people needed to be given a chance.
“That’s why I was incredibly proud to announce a $4.35 million upgrade to Bundaberg TAFE for an agriculture and horticulture centre,” he said.
“We need to provide young people with the skills and training so they can break into local industries.
“Labor recently announced it would also extend our free TAFE and apprenticeships program to under 25s. That means another 37,000 young people throughout Queensland will be able to get world-class vocational training for free.”
The Palaszczuk Government committed $42.5 million to upgrade the Isis Highway between Bundaberg and the Bruce Highway, as part of Queensland’s economic recovery plan.
The commitment was made regardless of the election outcome.
At the time, Mr Smith said the announcement demonstrated the Labor Government’s commitment to road infrastructure.
“This is a really important announcement for the people of Bundaberg – over $40 million to upgrade 10 intersections and 13 road widenings on the Isis Highway,” he said.
On Sunday, Mr Smith said TMR RoadTek crews would set out to improve safety at the Isis Highway, Park Estate and Broadway Drive four-way intersection from the start of the week.
To see a list of road improvements for the region, head here.
Voluntary assisted dying
From early in his campaign, Mr Smith has openly declared his support for voluntary assisted dying.
He believed, however, that the Premier made the right call in referring legislation to the Queensland Law Reform Commission.
“We need to make sure there’s a legislation that supports dignity at end of life but we need to make sure, especially in Queensland, we come up with the legislation that represents the community groups, the religious groups, and the political groups in a way that is uniquely for Queenslanders,” Mr Smith said.
In July, Mr Smith talked about his own personal experience with a family member and how it had led him to supporting the movement for euthanasia.
One of the biggest election promises made during Mr Smith’s campaign was $15 million for a rehab centre in the region.
“Alcohol and drug use is prevalent in Wide Bay, particularly in the Bundaberg region,” Mr Smith said.
“A dedicated specialist adult AOD service for the region will meet demand for withdrawal management and rehab services that are prevalent in the community.
“The new AOD facility will include eight withdrawal management beds and 20 rehabilitation beds.
“A dedicated AOD service in our community will also reduce pressure and demand for these services at our busy hospital.”
On May 7, Mr Smith said he believed the state’s economy would “detour” if the Premier was voted out.
“You only need to walk up Bourbong St to see the confidence in small businesses with their doors open,” he said.
Mr Smith spoke regularly throughout his campaign about the need to keep Covid out of the region in order to protect the local economy.
“I want to live in a Bundaberg where young people have endless opportunities, where our sick and elderly have access to quality healthcare and where our community feels safe,” Mr Smith said, early on in his campaign.
East flood levy
Last month, than $42 million was committed for an East Bundaberg flood levy if Labor won government.
Part of the 10-year flood action plan, the levee would help safeguard up to 600 buildings and properties in Bundaberg East, including the Bundaberg East State School and Meals on Wheels building.
While the plan has its opponents, Mr Smith said he believed it would be a “game-changer”.
In August, Mr Smith joined Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey in showing support for a Bundaberg to Gin Gin rail trail for cyclists.
The plan is expected to bring 229 jobs.