Member for Herbert (Qld)
Elected on a margin of 37 votes, Cathy O’Toole’s parliamentary term was always going to be dominated by the needs of her north Queensland electorate.
Promising that she would fight ‘tooth and nail’ for jobs in her community, O’Toole raised in Parliament her region’s high rates of youth unemployment, cuts to public service jobs, the effect of high electricity prices on business, the need for economic sustainability on Palm Island and risks to the tourism industry of the degradation of the Great Barrier Reef.
While acknowledging the importance of Queensland’s mineral wealth meant ‘we cannot currently leave our mining industry’, she stated that Queensland’s ‘largest untapped resource is our glorious sunshine’, and argued for the power of renewables to bring jobs and investment. She fought for and promoted opposition infrastructure commitments to deliver port expansion, water security and hydro-electric power to Townsville.
With Townsville home to the largest army base in the nation, O’Toole spoke repeatedly on the contribution of defence families to the community, the value of programs aimed at supporting veterans transitioning to civilian life and—informed by her work in the mental health sector for 15 years—the mental health challenges of veterans and serving personnel.