by Jeni Bone
Member for Broadwater, Verity Barton is the youngest women elected to Queensland Parliament. At just 27, she is the fresh face of the Campbell Newman administration, in a freshly painted, repurposed office in the middle of her electorate on the Gold Coast.
The jewel in the crown of the electorate, of south-east Queensland in fact, is the vast body of water known as the Broadwater and Ms Barton has the task of answering to a passionate community about the LNP’s plans for management and sustainable development of the region’s greatest marine asset.
Ms Barton became the candidate for the prime electoral seat when the previous two LNP candidates were disendorsed amid scandal. Her previous political experience included working in the office of the Shadow Attorney General, George Brandis.
As well as focusing on cost of living and measures to ease the burden of the people of Broadwater, which encompasses an array of demographics, Ms Barton is working with the Transport Minister, Mr Scott Emerson and Tourism Minister, Ms Jann Stuckey on identifying the potential of the Broadwater.
By the end of July, within the LNP government’s '100 days' commitment for planning it made to the people of Queensland, those composing the Broadwater Management Authority will be named. As Ms Barton explains: 'It will be an independent legislative authority composed of members from the Gold Coast with the suitable knowledge and ability. The structure of the committee, the Chair and its parameters will be revealed by the end of July. We are at the tail end of the process.'
The Broadwater, she continues has considerable tourism and local benefits for the Gold Coast and wider region. 'There is a lot of scope for attracting domestic and international tourism dollars and many opportunities for the Gold Coast. Appointing a local authority to oversee its management shows the government realises the importance to the local area. It’s an exciting time to deliver these positive steps forward.'
Newly elected Gold Coast Mayor, Tom Tate is also onboard. 'He is working closely with the Premier on the issues facing the Gold Coast, and that includes the Broadwater Management Authority,' says Ms Barton.
Crucial to any plan for the Broadwater is ensuring the boating and recreational safety and pleasure, with an ongoing schedule of dredging and maintenance.
Prior to his election, Tom Tate described the Broadwater as 'choking on sand caused by the Gold Coast Seaway channelling some of the natural northbound sand migration into this waterway'.
'I am not the first to propose dredging the sand from the Broadwater and selling the cleaned sand to the construction industry. The economics work, as clean sand is worth more per cubic meter than a year round dredging operation costs. In fact, the excess revenue can go towards funding the Broadwater Marine Management Authority who can be charged with the dredging operation and ongoing protection of this environmental and tourism jewel of our city.'
During the election campaign, Campbell Newman committed $30m to that task, a figure that has yet to be divided up for programs or rationed for any length of time.
'That will all be administered by the Authority,' says Ms Barton, still in the process of meeting with the people of the electorate about their concerns.
'There are also other issues like easing traffic congestion and lights near Coombabah School. People come to me expecting my help. By the time people come to my office, they are often at their lowest point, looking for a solution. It’s not always easy. I am realistic that this job is about service and hard work. In three to five years’ time I would like to think that I had delivered real solutions to these local concerns.'