PM’s touring talk fest

He came, he saw and he left no cash. 

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull escaped the halls of Parliament House this week for the rich expanse of outback Queensland.

The prime minister on Wednesday took his "listening tour" to Boulia, a tiny town of about 300 people, three hours south of Mount Isa.

Mr Turnbull made no specific funding announcements for Boulia during his trip and said he was there to talk to the community about how government can better target their spending.

Residents jumped at the chance to bend the prime minister's ear about a host of worries plaguing the region. 

While the purpose of the tour was to hear from drought stricken farmers, the bulk of discussions focused on health and education disparities. 

“I am not presumptuous enough to be travelling around with all the solutions, but it is good to talk through the problems, then I think what we have got to do is use our imagination to find the solutions,” Mr Turnbull said. 

“I am very interested in hearing more about problems people face with high school education, particularly in a small community like this. There are good high schools in Mount Isa of course but it is a long way away from Boulia,” he said. 

Remote families have to fork out a small fortune to send their kids away to boarding school and many children become too homesick to stay away. 

“So what can we do for a small isolated community like this?” Mr Turnbull said. 

“You are never going to have a Boulia high school, there are not enough kids, but can we use technology more creatively to do that.”

Mr Turnbull said he believes the solution lies in telecommunications. 

“In the 21st Century, we should not be victims of the tyranny of distance with all of the technology we have. We want to make sure that kids living in the more remote parts of Australia get access to the best education, the best health and so forth. 

Centre for Rural and Remote Health director Sabina Knight said she approached the prime minister about funding more student accommodation for doctors and nurses on bush placements. 

“We have students here in Boulia all year round and it would be great to be able to have them in places like Dajarra and Camooweal as well,” Professor Knight said. 

“All we need is some funding for accommodation. It would bring more spending and youth to these towns.”

Others took the opportunity to find out a bit more about the man running the country.

Local physiotherapist Peter Bucca quizzed Mr Turnbull on his daily exercise schedule while on the road. Mr Bucca was pleased to learn the PM fits in 100 push-ups a day.  

Boulia was the final stop on the prime minister’s three day drought tour through NSW and Queensland. 

On his trip, Mr Turnbull announced a $2 million funding boost to support the mental health of farmers, mining workers and Indigenous Australians living in rural Australia. 

These extra funds will keep mental health service contracts going until July 2020.

The rural financial counselling service offers advice to about 86 people per week.