Shadow Treasurer and Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt says there is nothing new in discussions about a North Queensland economic zone, with work to establish a body starting under the previous Labor Government.
Mr Pitt said Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mulherin as the former Minister for Regional Economies worked with the Federal Government last year to initially rally the regions.
“Last year the previous Labor Government signed an agreement with Federal Minister for Regional Australia Simon Crean to start the northern Queensland strategic development plan,” Mr Pitt said.
“The aim of the agreement is to improve infrastructure, liveability and economic resilience in these high growth regional economies through providing skilled and flexible workforces, more affordable housing and better services.
“Having better alignment in terms of lobbying effort and planning will help improve on the work already being done to influence decision makers at various levels of government.
“It’s about looking at the things we have in common, not the things we don’t, and using those we have in common to strengthen our case.”
Mr Pitt said while he supports the idea of a NQ Economic Zone, the idea pushed by Bob Katter for a separate North Queensland state is nonsense.
“Like many of Mr Katter’s policies, they have a populist thread to them but the numbers simply don’t stack up,” he said.
“For example, if you take away the payroll tax, transfer duty and land tax revenues generated by those living in south east Queensland, we couldn’t survive as a separate state.
“Just over 2% of payroll tax, and just under 4% of Transfer duty and just under 5% of land tax is collected in Far North Queensland, yet these revenue sources make up more than 60% of all the tax the State collects.
“If you total up all these revenue sources they total less than $190 million of revenue collected in Far North Queensland.
“The previous Government invested all this revenue back into local services and raised additional funding for more than $1 billion in infrastructure in the 2011-12 Budget for Far North Queensland – infrastructure like the Cairns Base Hospital upgrade that simply couldn’t be afforded with a separate North Queensland State.
“And that’s without going into the set up costs of electricity generation infrastructure, and other areas that would require duplication.”
Mr Pitt said the most recent push for an NQ Economic Zone is another indication that the Newman Government is ignoring regional Queensland.
“The recent LNP State Budget offered nothing new to regional Queensland, except cuts to jobs and frontline services,” he said.
“The formation of a NQ economic zone shows the frustration North Queensland is feeling when trying to attract funding and services from the Newman Government.
“The LNP government can find $3.5 million to start planning the Premier’s new Executive Building in the Brisbane CBD but cannot listen to the needs of North Queensland.”
“To add insult to injury the Treasurer had shown his mean and tricky nature by misleading the people of regional Queensland about how much infrastructure investment they were receiving.
“Mr Nicholls boasted that 75% of infrastructure investment will be spent outside Brisbane. However, 70% of the funding will be spent within a four hour drive from Brisbane.
“The truth is 70% of the LNP’s infrastructure funding will be spent in South East Queensland from Bundaberg to Toowoomba and south to the border.
“This means Gladstone, Rockhampton, Mackay, North Queensland, the Far North and Western Queensland will only receive 30% of the infrastructure funding to share between them.”