Can you believe it!! The holiday season has arrived and how excited I am to be back home from 4 weeks of both the Red and Green Chambers. Surreal after everything that we have gone through this year? Yes. Now after the hardships, through your incredible efforts, we can celebrate by putting on our dancing shoes and spend time with loved ones.

Highlights, as well the lowlights of the ‘midnight candle’ were in abundance this month. This included a State Budget delivered with only a fraction of the time usually given for scrutinising before seven days of Estimates Hearings, with speeches given after midnight including the end of year ‘wrap’ on behalf of the Cross Bench. Further easing of border restrictions and end of year celebrations, though sadly limited with our community groups, was so appreciated. Our community, as through every step of this year, is a shining light of unity, resilience and hope, and is why we love our home and all its inhabitants so much! 😊

Can I take a moment to send again my deep gratitude to all residents who went above and beyond during these last months? From businesses to community groups, students to teachers, and everyone who had to work, learn and respond quickly to a rapidly changing situation with no blueprint, words are not enough. In the angst and tears, there has also been much hope and many positives that we can take into 2021 and beyond.

L-R: QLD Futures Initiatives; the Jolly Man courtesy of Sunshine Butterflies; Christmas Cheer on Queen Street!

From the Chamber and Beyond

After the official opening of Parliament, it was straight back to business and we dove directly into a condensed budget and estimates process. From first appearances, this budget has no surprises, and continues from the Unite and Recover Strategy and COVID 19 Fiscal and Economic review delivered in September this year. An overview on what this meant for our communities is available on Noosa 360, as well posted to Facebook. In only seven months’ time this process will begin again, and as I have said, we have some work to do to have our projects ‘shovel ready’!!

It was an honour to again deliver the end of year Valedictory Speech on behalf of the crossbench. To summarise 12 months of diversity that makes up the ‘back row’ in fifteen minutes is never easy, however demonstrates that even with at times deeply opposing views, you can debate with respect and find common ground in which to unite. This, as well the ‘Budget in Reply’ speech are available at  www.sandybolton.com  and via Facebook.

After weeks under the ‘fluros’ in Chamber as well my office on the 10th floor, I have a new understanding of being ‘hunched’. Between Bills, the Budget and trawling through Service Delivery Statements for Estimates, all I can think of is sun, sand, some stretches and yes, sharing! Time with much neglected family and friends, including my ‘grandies’ who like so many others, we have not been able to see for some 12 months. With Ministers away, Departments closing for the break, and the next Parliamentary sitting until next year, watch out everyone, I am on the loose!! 😊

From the Inbox

Again, COVID-19 matters remain the principal issue in our ‘inbox’, as well our heavy haulage with the Pomona Kin Kin Road named as the worst road in the RACQ’s annual survey, and rightfully so. The day I returned from Parliament saw the Roundtable convene at Council, followed by a community meeting at the Pomona Majestic Theatre. In addressing the hundreds of residents, I outlined how far we had come since the first meeting in August due to a united front and assistance from everyone. With Council voting to initiate legal proceedings, the support to impacted communities is tangible and appreciated. Updates will be posted to Noosa 360.

As recently seen, our border situation can change with very little notice. It is important that everyone keeps up to date with the latest information at www.covid19.qld.gov.au. Also, as everyone has been asking for other measures to deal with COVID-19 apart from hard border closures, it is important that Queenslanders continue to be vigilant with social distancing measures, hand washing and every individual person checking into venues using the QR codes available. It is also vitally important that you get tested if you have any symptoms. We need to ensure that any potential cases in QLD are traced and isolated quickly and our own individual actions can help or hinder this. Never more important than during a major holiday with many people people travelling and congregating.

The easing of restrictions at the Cooloola Recreation Area has brought its own set of concerns. With visitors no longer requiring a Restricted Access Area Authority to enter the area, the previous status quo of unlimited day trippers now is being realised, and as I have since ‘lockdown’ requested, that this be reviewed in relation to resources. Number plate recognition cameras have now been installed and will assist with pass compliance and visitor data collection.

On the Homefront

In amongst all else, I did manage to sneak away to ‘crash’ a couple of end of year events, and I thank CCIQ Noosa and Zonta for having me, and for all that you do 😊 Even though I pined while missing out on so many events annually that I love to attend, I kept sight that given the context of the year, I remain appreciative of ‘moments’, such as the ‘you beaut in the ute’ Santa courtesy of Sunshine Butterflies !!

After the second meeting of our Housing Action Group, it was positive to see outcomes emanating. A Mayoral Minute was supported by Councillors for Noosa Council to identify suitable sites, which puts an official stamp of intent which had been absent previously and has been very welcomed. I will post an update after our next meeting in the New Year.

L-R The fabulous Zonta Team; The official lighting of the ‘Parly’ tree; Christmas celebrations Noosa Biz style!!

Grants and Funding Announcements

COVID-19 INTERNATIONAL TOURISM ADAPTATION GRANT – This funding aims to support regional Queensland tourism businesses that have suffered losses of income because of the international travel restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will close once all funding has been allocated. More information can be found at www.ditid.qld.gov.au/our-work/covid-19-international-tourism-adaptation-grant

JOBTRAINER FUND – additional training places in short courses, certificate and diploma qualifications to job seekers, school leavers and young people. https://desbt.qld.gov.au/training/providers/funded/jobtrainer-training-providers

DFV SERVICE PROVIDER GRANTS OPEN NOW- One-off grants of between $50,000 to $150,000 are available to support domestic and family violence (DFV) services to respond to the challenges and additional complexities posed by COVID-19. Up to $2 million in total is available and applications will close at 5pm on Sunday 28 February 2021. Successful applicants will be announced in April 2021. For more information, please visit https://www.csyw.qld.gov.au/cam…/not-now-not-ever-together.

For current government grant opportunities see the QLD Government Grant Finder or Grants Guru.

Parliamentary Speeches and Questions

Recent Questions on Notice (QONs) can be found here. All speeches can be found below:

Recent Questions Without Notice can be found here.

Estimates Hearings can be found here

Have Your Say

HEALTH NEEDS ASSESSMENT COMMUNITY SURVEY – The Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast Primary Health Network is currently undertaking a survey which closes 28 February 2021. You can read more at www.ourphn.org.au/survey/

EXPANDED POLYSTYRENE (EPS) – What do you think about adding single-use expanded polystyrene (EPS) takeaway food containers and cups to the list of products to ban? The survey closes 15 January 2021, 11.59pm. More information at https://www.getinvolved.qld.gov.au/gi/consultation/8050/view.html

ANNUAL REPORT 2019-20 FEEDBACK SURVEY – By taking a minute to complete this survey, you will help the Queensland Government improve their annual reports so readers can use them more effectively. The survey closes 30 June 2021, so there is plenty of time to have your say. More information is available at https://www.getinvolved.qld.gov.au/gi/consultation/7550/view.html

Current government public consultations can be found at www.getinvolved.qld.gov.au/gi.
Current committee inquiries can be found at www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-committees/inquiries

COVID-19 Recovery Assistance Links

L-R: Tewantin gets a surprise visit😊; The Speaker being presented to the Governor; SHN community meeting @ Pomona

Mobile Office

The schedule for the 2021 ‘moby’ or ‘roady’ will be posted in the January Newsletter. Until then, I will be out and about on the street and everywhere else during the break, so if you see me, just call out!! 😊

Office Reminders

Our team is looking forward to their hard-earnt break, with our office closing from December 18 to January 4 2021. If you require emergency assistance during this time please call one of the numbers listed, alternately any messages or emails will be answered on our return. • Emergencies 000 • Police Link 13 14 44 (24/7 for non-urgent police matters)

  • Queensland Government (13QGOV) 13 74 68 • Lifeline crisis support 13 11 14

Further links and contacts are available at www.sandybolton.com/keycontacts/

Connect

With so much to share, stay up to date via  NOOSA 360 , Facebook page updates or our monthly newsletters. Columns are in Noosa News , Noosa TodayCoolum AdvertiserForest Star, Cooroora Connect and Eastern Beaches News.

And Finally….

All I can say is blessings and thank you 🙏 This has been an extraordinarily difficult year for everyone, and how we handled this time is testimony to the incredible community we have, and live in. How lucky are we!!

Creating a space to prosper does not happen by chance, and we must always continue efforts to provide an environment where all can thrive, especially important in our COVID recovery.  Social media is a fabulous connector, including sharing and obtaining vital information, promoting our businesses and supporting one another. Sadly, it also has a ‘dark’ side with negative impacts to our community through the spreading of misinformation, casting of aspersions, and hurtful comments that can be especially harmful to our youngsters and vulnerable. Please assist in our efforts to end this type of bullying and harassment by not engaging on any platform that supports this type of behaviour, or commenting on posts that are targeting individuals, businesses or community organisations. There are appropriate channels for any concerns, and we are here to assist.

As so many reunite with loved ones this Christmas, spare a thought for those who continue to be separated from family or have suffered great loss. Lend a hand to a neighbour to get fire or flood ready, invite someone you know who will be alone at Christmas to join your ‘table’, or just touch base to ask ‘RUOKAY’. 💗

Importantly please. Be mindful of the dangers that our roads, rivers, dams and ocean can present. In preparation for fire/flood or storms, keep handy your evacuation plan, radio tuned for alerts, and those elusive torch batteries!

In closing, under your tree this year, may the greatest gift of caring and sharing be yours, and the kindness that makes our world beautiful, come to you in abundance.  Blessings everyone, have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!! And yes…. I will be ‘grandy spamming’, so watch out and avoid my personal FB page! 😊.

Sandy 🙏