MATT McEACHAN KEEN TO WORK WITH ISLANDS FOR BETTER OUTCOMES
• Matt McEachan in front of the site for the new Russell Island Ambulance Station, funded by the outgoing LNP Government.
New Member for Redlands, Matt McEachan, knows he has some work to do to win over the Bay Islands.
In the face of a State-wide swing against the Newman LNP Government, the difficulty of a local protest vote, coupled with an independent conservative standing against him, the 44-year-old Thornlands resident managed to do remarkably well in the recent State election.
After preferences, he finished nearly five points ahead of the Labor candidate for Redlands, Deb Kellie.
However, on the islands, it was a different scenario.
He was out voted by the Labor candidate by about eight points (figures approximate based on 80% of the count).
He knows he has some work to do to win over Bay Island residents, and he says he is up for the task.
Opposite to what many might think, Matt McEachan is no 'silvertail'.
The son of a Maryborough couple who travelled Australia with his dad working as a welder, Matt was born in a fibro shack in Whyalla in South Australia.
After family stints at mining sites around the country, Matt did most of his growing up in Maryborough after his parents divorced.
As a teenager he headed for the outdoors and worked in the cane fields, mustering and as a roo skinner.
After leaving school, he worked his way into Griffith University to start a science degree in environment and eco system management, which may surprise many.
Matt didn't get to finish the degree ('I will one day'), and it was the lure of adventure and the outdoors that saw him head to the Northern Territory to work in motor cycle licensing and as a motor cycle instructor. It was to change his life.
He moved to the Redlands in 1992 and married and had a daughter several years later.
He established a motor cycle riding school in Cleveland and ran courses at the Mt Cotton motor park. It was to become the biggest in Queensland.
Still a very young man he was snared by the motor cycle industry to manage an bike outlet in Brisbane. It became the biggest in the country.
Matt realised that becoming successful wasn't necessarily fulfilling.
"I wanted to spend more time with my daughter, so I gave the corporate stuff up and headed to the bush again, working mustering cattle at places like Cole Creek and in the Esk area. It was hard yakka."
His life really changed when he applied for a job in Federal Member for Bowman Andrew Laming's office in 2004.
He was involved in helping Andrew to hang on in 2007 and obtained the 2nd biggest swing in Australia at the 2010 Federal election.
Matt's talents were then recognised and he was head hunted for the Queensland 2011 State election campaign. He became a senior campaign officer.
"I decided I wanted to become more involved after I took my daughter to hospital when she broke her leg and we couldn't get a bed after several hours of waiting at the Redlands Hospital," Matt Eachan said.
His opportunity came when candidates were called for the seat of Redlands just a few months ago.
The rest, they say, is history.
Matt is now the new member of Redlands. He knows he has much work to do, particularly getting people to know him on our islands.
He is complimentary of outgoing member Peter Dowling, "particularly with his work with Translink and the islands".
"I think the Islands have tremendous potential.
"They offer a unique experience, particularly for the people of Brisbane to visit.
"If they use their GoCard the right way, they can literally get to the islands via public transport for nothing.
"I believe there is a big market here to be captured."
Matt also supports efforts to capture the passing boating market by improving visitor mooring facilities that offer proper service, fuel and amenities.
At the time of writing this article, the final outcome of the Queensland State election was not finalised.
Whatever the outcome, Matt McEachan says he is determined to get the know the Bay Islands and to fight for the best outcomes for islanders.
So say all of us!
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