The Cairns region has fallen off the map for the Newman Government with the Deputy Premier openly admitting Far North Queensland is not a priority.
Member for Mulgrave and Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt said Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney had admitted to State Parliament that Cairns would not figure in the government’s major budget priorities, including the distribution of funds under the Royalties for Regions scheme.
In response to an interjection from Mr Pitt while the Deputy Premier outlined the carve-up of $60 million allocated in the first year of the scheme, Mr Seeney said:
“The interjection from the Member for Mulgrave really typifies the approach of the previous government – that it is all about Cairns, that it is all about the major regional centres along the coast. Those opposite never considered anything west of there … and that is the situation we are about to rectify.”
Mr Pitt said Far North Queensland residents should be horrified that the government would treat their region with such disregard.
“I’m not ashamed that our government was all about Cairns, in fact quite the opposite – I’m proud of our very strong record in the FNQ region,” Mr Pitt said.
“Ours was the government that poured hundreds of millions into infrastructure in the city, that developed the Cairns Economic Plan.
“What you see by way of contrast is a government and a local member who gleefully, wilfully rip hundreds of millions out of the region and refuse Cairns the right to participate in such schemes as Royalties for Regions.
“It’s high time people like Gavin King started to perform for the area and do what they said they would do – stand up for Cairns and ensure that this government allocates the funding that Cairns and the region require and deserve.
“The Newman Government has earmarked almost $500 million to be split among 14 local council areas under the royalties scheme, but not one cent will come to our local area or region.
“Not only has the LNP excluded Cairns Regional Council, it has also ignored the Cassowary Coast Regional Council, Tablelands Regional Council and Cook Shire Council.
“I am sure FNQ residents will be disappointed that their local LNP MPs have failed to secure even the thinnest slice of this funding for our region. The expectation is – rightfully – that Cairns would at least be in a position to participate in the scheme and apply.
“Cairns is already a service centre for resources companies such as BHP, Xstrata, Barrick, Newcrest, Kagara and Rio Tinto and already has air services to 18 mining centres.
“Estimates from Cairns-based Cummings Economics suggest the value of mining in the Far North is around $1 billion, including bauxite mining at Weipa, silica production at Cape Flattery, and copper, lead or zinc in the Cairns’ hinterland, the Atherton Tablelands, Chillagoe, and Etheridge.
“So to say our region is not linked directly to the resources sector is an absolute nonsense – and our fair share amounts to nothing.”