IT’S THAT TIME of year when the tail end of summer fades and there’s a distinct chill in the air. Glorious autumn in Toowoomba. The leaves begin their metamorphosis from velvet green to yellow, then red before finally the May temperatures leave them brown and brittle, and they fall from the trees, signalling the end of the cycle before a renewal that is to come.
The political winds of change are also blowing in this city, and all the small and lovely towns and hamlets dotted around that make up the tapestry of Groom. From the agriculturalists to the south and west, the small businesses in Oakey and Pittsworth and the families in the exploding suburb of Highfields, the wellsprings of change are bubbling. People are talking and they want imagination, new energy, and a vision for the future that creates opportunities and doesn’t leave anyone behind.
Policy not politics
Suzie Holt plans to harness this vision and “take Groom to Canberra”, as she outlined community-driven priorities at her campaign launch in Toowoomba on Thursday night. Over 130 enthusiastic supporters gathered at Proof Beer and BBQ to hear Suzie outline her proposal for a community focused voice in Canberra.
As the beer flowed and people buzzed around chatting and relishing in the knowledge that this conservative electorate is coming alive, the excitement and hope was contagious. The crowd certainly liked what they heard, spontaneously erupting into applause when Suzie was introduced by MC John White as a team player, intelligent, qualified and someone who listens.
At the podium, Suzie took the audience on a journey, describing the genesis of the grassroots Voices for Groom movement, and noting there is nothing more meaningful or powerful than a community that has found its voice. She declared, “I believe in people – policy, not politics”.
Following in the footsteps of the legendary Cathy McGowan of Indi, Suzie committed to a model of representation with community at its core.
Suzie’s vision for the region
Suzie explained that her motivation as a community candidate is to Grow Groom Together, making us the region of choice. This vision incorporates a range of key policies that together address the economic, environmental, health, social and housing challenges identified by Groom residents as priorities.
Central to this vision is advocating for a public-private partnership to fund the new Toowoomba Hospital, including a regional medical training facility precinct which would ensure Groom has an adequate health workforce into the future, and provide opportunities for our young people to stay, study and work in the region.
With her own daughters moving away for study, Suzie knows firsthand the great loss to our region of young people moving away. Excitingly, Suzie plans to collaborate with her good friend, John Collins (of Powderfinger fame), to bring 100 gigs a year to Toowoomba, invigorating the cultural night life of Toowoomba.
Suzie acknowledged the essential role of agriculture to Groom’s economy and will advocate for an agricultural school of excellence at the University of Southern Queensland. Her aim is to make our region the food, fibre, and agribusiness hub of Australia, citing the National Farmers’ Federation progressive policies on sustainable agriculture as a model to follow in Groom. Suzie declared:
“Good environment policy is good economic policy.”
Another focus of Suzie’s federal regional infrastructure funding for better internet services, and the need to regenerate our small towns as hubs for jobs and housing development.
Housing unavailability, unaffordability and homelessness are growing issues in Groom, and Suzie also talked about the strategies needed to increase housing stock to support growth in the area with employers unable to attract staff due to insufficient housing and increasing homelessness in the region.
At the heart of all this is people
Suzie spoke of the amazing diversity across Groom, and the need for politicians that represent ALL people in their electorate, putting people at the centre of policy development. Not a career politician, but a ‘people person’, Suzie spoke profoundly of the importance of this election – the fundamental principles of government and integrity is at stake.
Suzie’s final call to action for the people of Groom is underpinned by an “old fashioned desire to serve with good intentions”, and she ended with a rallying cry for the electorate:
“Vote for me! Vote 1 Suzie Holt!”
It is truly an exciting time for the people of Groom, who for the first time since the seat was established, have a real choice for genuine representation at the federal level.