By HARRY CLARKE
THE Liberal National Party has preselected Chinchilla-based geologist and farming industry advocate Bryson Head to run for the Queensland seat of Callide in the upcoming state by-election.
Sitting MP Colin Boyce last July announced he would be nominating to contest the seat of Flynn at the federal election, in a move that will force Callide residents to vote for their new state MP by June.
The Caller spoke exclusively with Bryson Head, 26, who grew up on a family cropping farm north of Brigalow and currently works as a fly-in-fly-out geologist at a Bowen Basin coal mine.
His family’s involvement with politics and agriculture goes back generations – his grandfather was a councillor with the former Mount Perry Shire and his parents met at a National Party conference in Dalby in the 1980s.
While still a relatively young political aspirant, Head said his experience in QUT student politics, his managerial involvement with prolific farming lobby group Green Shirts Movement and his previous position with the National Recovery and Resilience Agency had given him enough understanding of government and politics to effectively represent Callide in the halls of Queensland Parliament.
“I thought I’d put my hand up because I’ve always been a proud advocate for my community and for regional Queensland,” Head told the Caller.
“I’m an energetic and enthusiastic person with an incredible amount of passion for this region. I’ve been around the political process for a number of years now and understand the game.
“I know that I’ve got a lot to learn but I also know that I need to reach out to people and rely on different people in the community who’ve been around for longer than me, and I’m not afraid to do that.”
After graduating from QUT with a Bachelor of Science (majoring in earth science), Head spent time working in the resources sector in Canada and the Hunter Valley before last year taking up a role in Anglo American’s coal mining operations around Moranbah.
He purchased a house in Chinchilla and said his original long term plan was to balance a geology career with his family’s farming operations in Brigalow, before a calling to the political sphere grew stronger.
“I’ve been involved with the LNP since I graduated high school because of my agricultural roots. I want a future in agriculture and I also care about people in the agricultural industry succeeding, and want people in regional Queensland to succeed,” Head said.
While at university Head helped establish what was called the QUT Rural Students Club, and he said that project inspired his belief that more open communication between country and city folk was the best way to help progress Queensland’s diverse community.
“The idea of the club was to bring country kids together in Brisbane but also to give city kids an opportunity to come out and see the country,” Head said.
“We’d go to places like the Goondiwindi B&S or the Flinton races and on the way out they’d be looking around at paddocks, like a big crop of sorghum, and they’d say ‘what’s that?’. Just having those conversations helps to give people some perspective.
“The more people are involved and engaged in things, and the more people care about not only their own community but the region and the state as a whole, I think the more we can nut out some of the tougher issues.”
The seat of Callide has just shy of 34,000 constituents and spans roughly 74,000 square kilometres between Calliope in the north and Chinchilla in the south.
It’s forever been a firmly held LNP seat. Mr Boyce amassed a 15.3 percent margin at the 2020 Queensland Election, and before his tenure the local MP was LNP Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney.
Asked about his priorities for Callide if elected this year, Bryson Head said the state government needed to address hospital resourcing, infrastructure and crime.
“Every community is different and has its own needs, but there’s still some overlapping issues and health care is a big one,” he said.
“In Chinchilla we’re lucky in a lot of ways with the services we have, but a maternity service hardly exists. Yet when Chinchilla was half the population there was a full maternity service.
“In the north of the electorate – places like Biloela, Monto and Eidsvold – there’s an even greater need for better health care.
“The figures on how often ambulance runs come into the area are huge because the hospitals just aren’t staffed appropriately and don’t have the facilities. I think this is a priority.
“Some of the communities have had population decline and people ask me how would I fix that. The reality is, who would want to move to those places if they don’t have adequate services? You fix the services and then you look at enticing people to come.”