© The Cairns Post
Landslide win: After winning the election in a landslide, incoming LNP members Gavin King (Cairns), Michael Trout (Barron River) and David Kempton (Cook) promise the Far North's voice will be heard in Brisbane. Picture: MARC McCORMACK
GAVIN King, David Kempton and Michael Trout will unite as a force for the Far North when they take their seats in State Parliament, insisting the region's voice will not be drowned out in the huge Campbell Newman-led LNP government.
The newly elected LNP members in Cairns, Cook and Barron River will make the region’s languishing economy among their top priorities after clinching clear victories in the long-held Labor seats. But the LNP has been warned not to become complacent after Saturday’s landslide win against Labor, as voters in the Far North prove they are not afraid of dumping an under-performing government.
"It’s up to us to work hard every single day to deliver on the faith that the people of Cairns have shown the LNP, and shown me," Mr King said. "We’re not taking anything for granted and we’re going to hit the ground running."
Mr Newman will be sworn in as Queensland’s premier this afternoon, and the first party room meeting is expected to be held in Brisbane on Wednesday. The Far North has been promised swift action on key election promises once the initial housekeeping of an incoming government is taken care of.
Within a month, the Newman government will set up new bodies to boost the tourism industry and address the need for upgrades to the Bruce Highway. And during its first 100 days, it will start arrangements for dredging Trinity Inlet, appoint a commissioner to look at de-amalgamating Port Douglas, and improve protection for dugongs and turtles.
And the Far North will be a key target in the LNP’s flagship commitments to reduce the state’s unemployment to 4 per cent and ease cost-of-living pressures. "We’ve had the highest unemployment in Australia so it’s a top priority here," said Mr Trout, who seized the bellwether seat of Barron River by the biggest margin in the Far North. "What I want to see is that we get out of small businesses hair – start to help them, not hinder them. "If each small business in the Far North just hired one more person, the economy could go through the roof."
James Cook University’s associate professor of political science, Doug Hunt, said the new MPs in the Far North needed to make good on their commitments or risk losing their seats.
"Allegiances to political parties are decreasing and it’s much easier for people to transfer their vote if the LNP doesn’t satisfy the people who supported them," Dr Hunt said.
Mr Kempton, who wrested the seat of Cook from Labor for the first time since 1977, said strong Far Northern representation in Parliament meant local residents would soon get the change they voted for. "To have the three of us singing from the same hymn sheet for this region is absolutely critical to making sure the Far North’s voice is heard," he said.
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