Mark O'Brien, new ALP candidate for Warrego with opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk. Pic taken at the Botanic Gardens, Brisbane. Pic Mark cranitch.
Mark O'Brien, new ALP candidate for Warrego with opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk. Pic taken at the Botanic Gardens, Brisbane. Pic Mark cranitch.

Former Murweh mayor to run for Labor in Queensland election

THE Queensland electorate of Warrego has been held by the Nationals and LNP since 1974, but former Murweh mayor Mark O'Brien is hoping to win the seat back for Labor.

Currently held by incumbent LNP MP Ann Leahy, the seat stayed almost exclusively in the hands of Labor from 1899 to 1974, for all but five years.

Mr O'Brien, who previously ran in the seat in 2015 and 2017, is hoping to bring some local knowledge and experience to the table.

"I'm a person of the region, I have had and continue to have business in the electorate," he said.

"I understand the issues, both urban and rural.

"But the most important thing is that if people feel as if their voice is not being heard by government, the best thing is to have their voice in the government."

Mr O'Brien said he hopes to be a voice in the party room for the people of Warrego is Labor is returned in the next election.

Here is where he stands on the hot-button issues:


Daylight Savings

Mr O'Brien will not be supporting changes to time zones or daylight savings arrangements in the next term.

"The last statement form the premier is that it is that we won't be revising it and I support that stance," Mr O'Brien said.


Youth Crime

A compassionate and understanding approach to youth crime is the best solution in Mr O'Brien's eyes, as it helps crush the behaviour before it even starts.

"What I would say is, from the point of view of Warrego, we got to be careful not to convince ourselves that the problem's bigger here than it is elsewhere," he said.

Mr O'Brien believes many of the issues come with a lack of opportunities for young people in the communities.


Voluntary Euthanasia

The state government referred the issue of voluntary euthanasia to the Queensland Law Reform Commission earlier this year and has stated they don't plan on pursuing the issue further until after the state election.

"The Queensland Law Reform Commission will report back to the Attorney-General with draft legislation by 1 March next year for the government's final consideration," premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said in parliament on May 21.

Mr O'Brien said his personal opinion on the matter is that "we are treading on thin ice."

"Considering these matters, every human life, irrespective of whether it is tiny or aged, is a blessing and a gift, and should be respected and treated that way," he said.

"There will always be pressure, not just on the Labor Party side.

"Does that mean there'll be a change? Not necessarily.

"I'm sure the Labor Party would consider community issues on these matters."


COVID-19 and borders

Mr O'Brien is happy with the way borders and COVID-related issues are already managed, with the Chief Health Officer making much of the directions.

"We have been extraordinarily lucky to have Annastacia Palaszczuk as our premier guiding our state through the pandemic today.

"I could think of no better person to continue to do that after the election.

"The system as managed by the premier today has worked wonderfully and I see no reason why we need to change."


Bradfield Scheme

Water security is a big issue in the Warrego Electorate in Mr O'Brien's view and would embrace the science and technology of the day to help improve the area's water situation.

"Bearing in mind that we're a big part of the Murray Darling Basin, I think some more work and some clarity from the Federal Government about the future of the Murray Darling, would be helpful," Mr O'Brien said.

"But of course in the Warrego, if I was the member, I would support any sensible proposition for the Warrego."

The Queensland Government has referred the Bradfield Scheme idea to an independent panel to assess the project.


Vegetation Management

While Mr O'Brien has criticised his party's vegetation management legislation plans in the past, he supports the current arrangements in place.

"The current government, especially through the Minister of natural resources, did some fine work with the vegetation management laws," he said.

"They are, in my opinion, pretty close to what we need.

"What graziers and farmers need to know is what they can and can't do, and the time frames and process for assessing applications need to be quick and cost-effective.

"That does not include open slather, even if you own a block of land in town, there are restrictions by local authorities on what you can do."

He said one of the reasons he's running for Warrego is to be a seat on the table while issues like vegetation management are discussed, so he can represent landholders and farmers across the Western Downs and Southwest Queensland.

An article posted by the Dalby Herald in 2015 spoke out against 'hardline' land clearing laws proposed by Labor at the time.


Marijuana and Tobacco

Mr O'Brien does not believe laws around marijuana should be changed from what they already are, not supporting legalisation for recreational use.

"Fully support if it continues to be shown if it's a valuable medical tool by all means, but does that mean it should be available for recreational use, I've not been convinced of that," he said.

Amid a new initiative being undertaken by the University of Queensland to stamp out smoking, the issue of tobacco laws has also recently fallen into the spotlight.

"As a reformed smoker, the difficulty in quitting smoking is a serious challenge," Mr O'Brien said.

"And I am sympathetic to anybody who is trying to give them up, and I believe most people are.

"I do not want to make it any more difficult to them."


Energy industry

Mr O'Brien prefers to see renewable energy projects being constructed rather than non-renewables, although errs on the side of caution for too much change.

"I think the Labor Governments have shown an incredible commitment to reliable supply and a commitment to efficient and price-effective energy," Mr O'Brien said.

"In any place that we can, renewables should be embraced.

"I personally have a preference, and that's particularly been shown on the [Western] Downs, it's all bound up on the demand, there's a whole heap of factors that come into play in this.

While Mr O'Brien has a preference for renewables, he floated gas as a possible future solution.

"We will not do a South Australia and allow ideology to turn the lights out."