SUSAN McDonald says she’s not sure if she is more excited or terrified at the thought of becoming a Senator for Queensland at the next federal election.
The Brisbane based business identity and mother of three with strong links to Cloncurry, said she was driven by a sense of wanting to contribute more, and especially to ensure rural and regional Queensland has a voice.
“Like it or not, politics and the legislation that comes from politics affects every part of our lives,” Ms McDonald said.
“Sadly, people have become very cynical about the system. The time had come when I felt I had to do more for industry and business and the people of rural and regional Queensland.
“I couldn’t just go on yelling at the television. There is so much that can be done, so much than can be done better.”
Ms McDonald secured the number two spot on the LNP senate ticket behind Brisbane mining executive Paul Scarr at the party’s conference in Brisbane last Friday.
Long serving senator Ian Macdonald was shifted into the unwinnable fourth spot. Sitting senator Barry O'Sullivan, who also contested the second spot, narrowly missed out on preselection altogether. Finance executive Gerard Rennick holds third position.
Following the likely mid-2019 federal election Mr Scarr will sit in the Liberal party room, while Ms McDonald will represent the Nationals.
I couldn’t just go on yelling at the television. There is so much that can be done, so much than can be done better.
Ms McDonald is currently the managing director of Super Butcher, a five store and online meat retailing business owned by her family’s MDH company. She also is a director of Beef Australia and the treasurer of the RNA.
Ms McDonald is no stranger to politics. She was the Queensland National Party’s state secretary from 2003. Her father Don was both the Queensland and federal National Party president during the 1990s.
She lists Lawrence Springborg and Tim Fischer as political heroes.
“Both of them had a deep belief in service to their country,” Ms McDonald said. “As politicians they were both decent and hardworking and wanted to make the country a better place.”
Another inspiration is Queensland’s longest serving premier, the late Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen.
“Joh grew Queensland from a state that was just going to something extraordinary,” she said. “That is what we are missing now. We need to be doing things and getting things done.”
However, she says she has no greater role model than her own Uncle Bob McDonald, who served for 40 years on the Cloncurry Shire Council.
“He was a man who believed in his community and had the ability to ensure their were practical outcomes for the ratepayers.”
She points to infrastructure and tax reform as priorities.
“We previously had a mindset of set of building industry that would attract people and industry and create wealth,” she said.
“Now we moved to a mentality that everything must be user pays. That may work in some instances, but it doesn’t deliver the major projects that can have a profound impact on a region.”
Obvious projects included raised the Burdekin Dam wall and the construction of the Hells Gate Dam on the upper Burdekin River and creating 100,000 hectares of irrigated agricultural land.
She also wants industry to have access to cheap, reliable, baseload electricity.
“That means coal,” she said. No doubt there will be technology and innovations in the future that may, but right at this time coal remains our best option.”
Ms McDonald said it was still to decided where she would locate her office, but it was unlikely to be in Brisbane.
“I will always think of Cloncurry as the centre of the universe, but I’m happy to be based anywhere in Queensland,” she said.
“I absolutely recognise this is a huge responsibility. I can promise three things: I will relevant, hard working, and on the ground.”