Just a jump to the left: Dempsey sheds LNP past to take on ‘Minister for Coal’

Popular Bundaberg Mayor and former state MP Jack Dempsey will contest the seat of Hinkler as an independent.

Apr 08, 2022, updated Apr 08, 2022
Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey will run for Hinkler as an independent candidate. (Image: Bundaberg Regional Council)

Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey will run for Hinkler as an independent candidate. (Image: Bundaberg Regional Council)

Dempsey held the state seat of Bundaberg for the LNP and was a Newman government minister but appears to be using a more left-wing agenda to take on the LNP’s Resources Minister Keith Pitt.

Dempsey has previously criticised the LNP for what he said was an obsession with coal in an electorate that was until recently threatened with a coal mine on its doorstep through a proposal from Fox Resources. That plan was knocked on the head by the Palaszczuk Government this week after a public backlash.

Pitt holds the seat with a seemingly unbeatable margin of 14.5 per cent and a swing towards him at the last election of 6 per cent, but Dempsey has been enormously popular in Bundaberg after winning the mayoralty in 2016 with 71 per cent of the primary vote. He won in 2020 in a three-way race with 64 per cent.

Queensland mayors have had success moving from council to State Government, but they don’t always make the transition to federal politics. Former Townsville mayor Tony Mooney was a notable example, but the nearby seat of Flynn will be contested for Labor by Gladstone mayor Matt Burnett.

Dempsey will take leave from his mayoral post when the election campaign officially begins.

His move comes on the heels of a clutch of independents taking on sitting Coalition MPs, with climate change as a central theme and backing from Simon Holmes a Court’s Climate 200.

Dempsey said the Bundaberg region was one of the most socially disadvantaged in Australia with high levels of youth unemployment and disability.

 He said he would be the local champion to improve housing, upgrade the local hospital and medical services, raise the standard of age care and take action on climate change.

 “There needs to be a stronger focus on creating jobs, looking after the elderly and providing homes for everybody,” he said.

 “Hinkler is the food bowl of Australia and with positive change we’ll become the nation’s capital for agricultural technology and bio-energy.

 “My policy priorities include support for seniors and young people. I’ll work to encourage emerging industries in tourism, technology, renewables, defence and advanced manufacturing.

 “We need investment in critical infrastructure including hospital upgrades, water security for Hervey Bay and flood mitigation for Bundaberg.

 “I have a proven record of working with all levels of government and across the political spectrum to deliver positive change for our community.”


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