There was no such thing as COVID-19 the last time our so-called Member for Cook Cynthia Lui visited Weipa.
It’s been some 530 days since the MP last flew out of Weipa Airport after a whirlwind trip to Weipa and Napranum.
That was on August 28, 2019.
It’s simply not good enough.
Cape York Weekly is calling on her boss, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, to fix this disaster.
Between Weipa, Napranum and Mapoon, there are around 6000 people living in this area.
They deserve to be represented by their “local” MP.
Weipa might be the home of Australia’s biggest bauxite mine, which helped this region largely avoid economic disaster during the height of the pandemic, but that’s not to say that our tourism sector did not suffer.
Tour guides, fishing charters, accommodation providers and related businesses copped a hiding as a result of biosecurity bubbles and border closures.
Yet not one visit from Cynthia Lui. Not one phone call, either, from all reports.
Cape York Weekly is now 20 editions old since launching last September and we have yet to hear a word from the elected Member for Cook.
A reminder that we had an election in October.
Did she show up then? No.
Weipa is the second biggest township in Ms Lui’s electorate, behind Mareeba.
It’s also one of the biggest economic drivers for the state of Queensland.
Yet we have a massive child care problem, major telecommunication problems, a number of infrastructure issues and no long-term future plan.
How long will Weipa continue to be ignored by Ms Lui and her government?
Credit where it’s due, we love that there is major investment happening at the Weipa Hospital through the introduction of a CT scanner and a birthing unit.
But if Ms Lui ever visited Weipa Hospital, she would notice an overflowing car park.
Where is the car park extension? The nature strip is not an appropriate parking site.
Normalisation has been a long topic of discussion and we are now at the point where Rio Tinto is happy to hand over the keys to the town.
Yet the state government is playing games and delaying the process because it sees no value in Weipa’s long-term future.
Just because bauxite mining has a limited lifespan, doesn’t mean Weipa has to suffer.
There are ample opportunities for Weipa to grow post-mining.
Tourism would be the first industry to benefit, especially once the PDR is sealed.
The deep water port also opens doors to other industries.
Want to reduce shipping traffic from the Great Barrier Reef?
Bypass them to Weipa and make the western Cape a major freight hub.
Our Member for Cook would know all of this if she ever turned up and listened to locals.
Since moving her electorate office from Mareeba to Cairns, the MP has been holding “mobile offices” in Mareeba and Mossman/Port Douglas.
What about Weipa? What about Mapoon or Napranum?
Lockhart River’s telecommunications were down last week. What about them?
Cape York is one of the most isolated places in Australia.
We need a full-time MP who is willing to roll up their sleeves and listen to the community and fight for the constituents.
Annastacia Palaszczuk has kept Queenslanders safe and we thank her for that.
But she has allowed her government to forget about the remote areas and allowed Cynthia Lui to get away with ignoring the very people who elected her.
Sadly, the people of Cape York don’t understand what it’s like to have an MP with their back. Billy Gordon wasn’t up to the job, nor was David Kempton.
This isn’t about politics, it’s about caring.
Weipa and its surrounding communities need to be cared for and nurtured.
The state government can no longer rely on Rio Tinto to do all the heavy lifting in the Western Cape.
It’s time for some leadership at state level.
This article appeared in Cape York Weekly, 8 February 2021.