I spent today in Mackay, North Queensland, mostly at the local campus of Central Queensland University. I was specifically interested in hearing about the possible local impact of the Government’s planned legislation to abolish compulsory fees for student unions and associations, although other issues usually arise.
When I arrived in the morning, I briefly thought I was in Darwin, as the local paper, the Daily Mercury, had a crocodile story on its front page. However, crocs are nowhere as common here as they are in Darwin, so it’s a reasonable thing to put on the front page.
The local Student Association outlined the likely services and assistance that would be lost if the government’s legislation went through unchanged. It was interesting to see incoming Queensland National Party Senator Barnaby Joyce (mentioned in my previous post) quoted in today’s Courier-Mail expressing concern about the impact the legislation will have on services in regional campuses – concerns I share. By pleasant coincidence, Rachel Taylor, a student I met in Canberra as part of the ABC Heywire competition, came to get something from the Student Association office while I was there. (A picture of the two of us is on the photo page of my website)
While on campus, I also visited the Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research, which conducts statewide and national research. It is good to see such a centre based in a regional area (and congrats to the Qld Labor Government for funding it).
I had a quick drive up to a lookout at Slade Point, an outcrop overlooking the beach just north of the harbour, followed by a drive to have a look at East Point, an area threatened with major development. The local conservation group has been raising concerns about it for some time.
I had an informal meeting with a few locals in the evening and got back to the motel in time to see an interesting Andrew Denton interview with Bob Geldof. This was the most interesting bit of TV I’d seen for a while (which probably isn’t saying much when I think about it, as I’ve hardly watched TV in the last few months, but that shows it held my interest for me to watch it all the way through).
Tomorrow morning I fly to Townsville, with another visit to the local campus and an informal evening meeting again making up part of the day.