10 May 2023

‘Dog act’: Political rivals line up to attack Entsch

| Matt Nicholls
Start the conversation

Lockhart River mayor Wayne Butcher has the backing of Labor minister Mark Bailey.

THE Labor Party and Katter’s Australian Party has criticised the LNP, claiming they have used communities like Lockhart River for political capital ahead of the election.

Last week, Warren Entsch, who is seeking re-election as the Member for Leichhardt, said $3.5 million in funding had been secured for improved connectivity in Cooktown, Seisia and Lockhart River.

But political rivals were not impressed.

State Minister Mark Bailey fired the biggest shot.

“As ministerial champion for Lockhart River I find the last-minute telco election bribe by Mr Entsch to be too little too late,” he said.

“Telecommunications at Lockhart River is still third world, yet Mr Entsch has been in power under the LNP federal government since 2013 and has been an MP in Canberra for 23 of the last 26 years.

“Mr Entsch should have done the job he was elected to do to fix this problem anytime in the last three years and he has failed miserably the people of Lockhart River.

“I was also incredibly disappointed to hear Mr Entsch try to blame Lockhart River Mayor Wayne Butcher for the telco failure instead of taking responsibility.”

On ABC Radio, Mr Entsch said the council was not doing all it could for its community.

“The problem that we’ve been having, though, whenever there was a breakdown, whenever there was a problem, instead of the mayor picking up the phone and ringing us – and I mean, they have got an office in Cairns so they could communicate – I would find about it on Facebook,” the MP told Brisbane host Steve Austin.

“And so this definitely caused extended periods of time on shut down unnecessary extended periods of time.”

Mr Entsch said the way to fix the problem was to bypass the Wattle Hills repeater.

“At the moment, it goes through Batavia Downs through to Wattle Hills through to Lockhart River,” he said.

“We’re trying to bypass Wattle Hills because we’ve had problems with fuel disappearing from the generators – there are people helping themselves.”

Mr Bailey said Mr Entsch needed to take responsibility rather than pass the buck.

“It’s sad to see him lying, just like Scott Morrison does regularly, to cover up his obvious failure as the local MP,” he said.

“Mayor Butcher is one the best mayors in the state and has done an incredible job for his community, delivering key road, airport and energy infrastructure upgrades, a new social club, new football field, a splash park for local kids and festival grounds for Lockhart River.

“To hear Mr Entsch ‘do a Morrison’ on Mayor Butcher is a dog act over what is clearly a federal government responsibility, and he should be ashamed of himself.”

Labor candidate for Leichhardt Elida Faith was a little bit more diplomatic.

“It’s good to see that Warren and the Liberal government has woken up,” she said.

“We know that those communities have had hit and miss internet for too long.

“As always, we see five minutes before the election they throw money at the communities, just as they did last election around Indigenous housing.”

KAP candidate Rod Jensen said the timing of the upgrades were “suspicious”.

“Leaders have been pushing for permanent fixes to the problems of regular outages of mobile reception and internet during the rainy season,” he said.

“The problems have been around forever, so isn’t it interesting that as soon as an election arrives there’s money available to fix it.

“The mayor of Lockhart River says they have been waiting 10 years for Telstra or the federal government to get off their backsides to propose a fix.”

Start the conversation

Cape York Weekly

Subscribe to get the latest edition of Cape York Weekly in your inbox each Monday.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Cape York Weekly's terms and conditions and privacy policy.