BACK: Danita Potter,Abigail Andersson, Andrew Saal, Ace Bleney. FRONT: Ros Heit, Debbie Dennien, Stan Corbett and Terry Fleischfresser at the Kingaroy council forum.
BACK: Danita Potter,Abigail Andersson, Andrew Saal, Ace Bleney. FRONT: Ros Heit, Debbie Dennien, Stan Corbett and Terry Fleischfresser at the Kingaroy council forum. Katherine Morris

Candidates go head to head at South Burnett council forum

ROADS, healthcare and council expenditure emerged as key election issues for voters who attended the council election forums in Kingaroy on Wednesday night.

The candidate's forum invited current councillors and candidates to give a short speech on what they were offering the community, before voters hit the polls on March 19.

The road levy, as well as the state of the region's roads, was a hot topic, with many questions from the floor concerned with how council money was being spent as ratepayer fees increased.

Many candidates said more pressure from local government on to State Government was needed to get the roads improved, with others arguing council needed to lift its game and "cut the fat" off spending.

Healthcare, rates, mental health, oncology and economic growth, to name a few, were all promoted as key priorities from hopeful candidates.

The issue of council taking on the private hospital, as well as the current state of the general hospital, was hot on the tongues of candidates.

Mayoral candidate and current deputy mayor Keith Campbell said he did not regret his decision to vote for council's proposal to take over the private hospital.

"We want to see somebody come into the building that's going to be able to operate and function the hospital profitably," Cr Campbell said.

"I believe that the private hospital here is one of the cornerstones to the economy within the area. It is job creating, it does create the opportunity of allowing people to come into the area and know that they can have access to private facilities.

"The hospital in the future might not function as a 24/7 hospital, it may be a day surgery with visiting specialists."

Division six candidate and current councillor Ros Heit voted against the notion for council to take the hospital over.

"Every single health expert who investigated walked away from it and I thought, if these experts in health cannot see or cannot make the model to make it run, I think there's a certain arrogance in council that it thinks it can do it better than these experts," Cr Heit said.

"We need to find out what options are best suited, and we all know we need a new public one.

"We need to continue to pressure the State Government to improve that hospital."

South Burnett

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