Member for Mulgrave and Shadow Treasurer, Curtis Pitt, says after at least a quarter-century as a fly-in fly-out base for the resources sector Cairns and Far North Queensland deserve a share of the Newman Government’s Royalties to the Regions scheme.
“Cairns has been a FIFO base for 25 years which reflects the strength of the resources sector in our region,” Mr Pitt said.
“Yet in the first 11 months of the Newman Government it has taken away more than it has given to Far North Queensland and we have received not a single cent from the Royalties to the Regions scheme.
“This week we have seen mass sackings by the LNP government in the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service and the potential for similar cuts in other health regions covering Torres Strait and Cape York.
“The loss of 234 jobs in our regional health system including 41 nurses and 22 allied health professionals comes just months after the Premier promised no more job cuts.
“Those 234 pay packets that will soon be missing form our regional economy meaning local traders will be hit by the ripple effect as more jobless workers close their wallets and purses, put away their cheque books and credit cards, and freeze their spending until they secure another job.
“The still-secret second instalment of the Costello Audit will mean even more job cuts because it will be recommending more outsourcing and outright privatisation of public assets and government services.
“What might assist our region is a fair share for FNQ of the LNP government’s Royalties to the Regions funding.
“So far the LNP has ignored FNQ by excluding it from its Royalties to the Regions scheme that splits almost $500 million among 14 local council areas without one cent coming to our region.
“The LNP’s scheme has ignored and excluded Cairns Regional Council as well as the Cassowary Coast Regional Council, Tablelands Regional Council and Cook Shire Council.
“The Royalties to the Regions program was meant to assist councils facing added burdens caused by the need to invest in services and infrastructure to cater for resources developments.
“To suggest FNQ is not being affected by the demands of the resources developments is absolute nonsense.
“Cairns is a service centre for resources companies such as BHP, Xstrata, Barrick, Newcrest, Kagara and Rio Tinto and has air links to 18 mining centres.
“Resource projects are impacting on our regional roads and that is something that will only get worse as proposed Cape York projects get up and running.
“The mining sector is also an influence on the value of the Aussie dollar, which right now is having a detrimental impact on the FNQ tourism industry.
“So to ignore FNQ when it comes to the Royalties to the Region scheme is just plain wrong,” Mr Pitt said.