Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Tony Martin

PM unfazed by Brunker beat-up

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard visited Mackay on Tuesday morning and reiterated her support for ALP Dawson candidate Mike Brunker who was involved in an altercation at the Bowen Races on Saturday.

Ms Gillard flew into the city alongside Treasurer Wayne Swan to make a quick stop at Bucyrus, a mining support business in Paget.

The pair took a tour of the workshop before Ms Gillard addressed a large group of workers from around the industrial area who had gathered to catch a glimpse of Australia’s first female Prime Minister.

Ms Gillard urged them to pledge their support for Mr Brunker at the polling booths on Saturday.

“Mike is a great local candidate,” she said, while standing on two wooden crates. “I know he would be a fantastic voice for this part of the world in Canberra and obviously I’d be urging you to support him when you got to cast your vote on Saturday.”

Shortly afterwards, during an interview with the Daily Mercury, Ms Gillard said she wasn’t concerned about Mr Brunker’s involvement in a altercation at the Bowen Races on Saturday.

Bowen Turf Club president Cyril Vains ended up with a cut and blackened eye after the altercation. However, Mr Brunker said he was king hit and was acting in self defence.

Ms Gillard said Mr Brunker had her full support.

“Obviously Mike has explained exactly what’s happened and as you know he was looking after himself in a difficult circumstance,” she said.

Ms Gillard and Mr Swan also reiterated their support for a funding package to improve safety on the Peak Downs Highway.

If re-elected, Labor would ask the Queensland Government to develop a $120 million safety package for the Peak Downs Highway, which would include a realignment of the Eton Range.

Up to $116 million could be made available for the Walkerston bypass, to divert traffic travelling on the Peak Downs Highway away from the town.

Mr Swan said the funding would come from the Federal Government’s Regional Infrastructure Fund.

“The money is committed. The money is guaranteed. We are sourcing it from the resource tax because that’s exactly what we want to do,” he said.

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