The benefits of population growth will spread to Far North Queensland with the launch of a new tailored plan to strengthen the economy and liveability of the region.
Minister for Local Government Paul Lucas said the Queensland Regionalisation Strategy (QRS) and the supporting Actions for Stronger Region plans will attract more people to live, work and play in Far North Queensland.
He said the My Far North Queensland plan aims to strengthen the region’s existing and potential economic opportunities and looks at how these link within and across regional cities and towns.
“For the past ten years Queensland’s population growth has consistently exceeded, sometimes doubled, the nation’s population growth,” Mr Lucas.
“Our population will pass Victoria’s in the next ten to twenty years and the population of South East Queensland is expected to grow from just under 3 million people to almost 4.4 million in that same period.
“While this population growth will be good for Queensland by growing our economy and allowing us to provide more services, Queensland is unique in Australia in that we are committed to spreading population on a regional basis.
“Regional parts of Queensland are crying out for more people and jobs, they help support more services and create more local demand, and that’s why the QRS makes so much sense.
“The QRS strategy aims to ease growing pains and strengthen prosperity by improving the economic links within and across our regional cities and towns.
“Far North Queensland is renowned for its natural beauty and lifestyle which makes it one of Australia’s premier tourist destinations.
“It has an important role to play as the international gateway to the far north, reaching across the Coral Sea to Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Rim.
“The plan focuses on growing economic links with the Asia-Pacific region by continuing to develop Cairns as a major business hub.
“This will be achieved by capitalising on export opportunities in industries such as tropical expertise, marine, tourism, aviation, food and education.”
Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said by 2031 this region, from the Cassowary Coast, north to the Papua New Guinea border and west to Doomadgee, will grow from around 280,150 people to more than 378,600.
“Projects such as the Cairns Entertainment Precinct, a greenspace network plan, a new TAFE trade training centre and long-term social housing programs are vital to sustaining growth, supporting tourism and maintaining the lifestyle that is key for those who live here,” Mr Pitt said.
“These projects will help to attract new residents and tourists to the region, but the State Government is also working to tap into new investment.”
Member for Cairns Desley Boyle said economic diversification and workforce development must continue to be promoted to enhance the region’s resilience against economic downturns caused by natural disasters and global slumps.
“Growth in PNG-based mining presents an opportunity for Far North Queensland businesses to tap into this market,” Ms Boyle said.
Member for Cook Jason O’Brien said opportunities exist to further develop tourist services and activities focused on the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest and the Cape York wilderness areas.
“This will be done by providing the region with support to implement the Tropical North Queensland Tourism Opportunity Plan,” Mr O’Brien said.
Member for Barron River Steve Wettenhall said port and air infrastructure, agriculture and mining industries were also giving rise to aviation and marine capabilities which will further strengthen the region.
“Tropical expertise industries can also be strengthened by engaging with universities and industry networks to boost research,” Mr Wettenhall said.
The six Actions for a Stronger Region plans, a part of the overarching QRS are:
- My Central Queensland
- My Darling Downs South West
- My Far North Queensland
- My Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday
- My North Queensland
- My Wide Bay Burnett
Underpinned by the Queensland Infrastructure Plan, the QRS underwent extensive public consultation in July with almost 500 people attending 13 forums across the state.
Based on feedback, 35 recommendations were adopted, four more than were originally planned.
For more information on the QRS go to www.qld.gov.au