As North West Queensland faces the road to recovery from its greatest natural disaster, the leaders of the region have made a call to the wider community on their urgent need for a fair regional “Future Deal” from Canberra.
Even as our region counts its losses from devastating flooding, the Federal Government is set to deliver yet another “City Deal”, ramping up its already significant investment in South East Queensland.
Representing the eight regional Mayors and Carpentaria Shire, Mayor Cr Jack Bawden said politicians are yet to commit to the necessary deal for our region and is time for real regional investment beyond the east coast.
“If it’s good enough for the comfortable South East Queensland to have a region-wide plan for the future, it’s no less important - and now essential - for the North West of the state,” Cr Bawden said.
“It’s at times like these that the chronic lack of investment from our governments hits the most – from road infrastructure to transport to social services.
“For too long we’ve been overlooked. These issues continue to be ignored and seeing the big city get a deal while we can’t get a commitment, is a kick in the teeth. So, we need help to get some action.
“With the attention of the nation on us we’re ready to have our voices carry further. This isn’t just a place for a photo opp, a handshake and a twitter post. We need real investment now and the relevant Ministers - and those who want to be Ministers - need to step up.
“Our region normally punches well above its weight, with hardworking locals contributing $176,000 per capita to the national economy – nearly three times more than elsewhere in Queensland at only $66,000,” he said.
“Late last year we delivered our strategic Six Point Plan to government and opposition to seek support for a strategic, long term Regional Deal to address the infrastructure and service deficits across our region.
“After the response and important initial recovery to the floods, a long-term plan is needed for the rebuilding of the region’s industry - ensuring the sustainability of its communities and ensuring in the long term that it continues to contribute to the national economy,” Cr Bawden said.
“Our Six-point Plan clearly outlined – even before the disaster – detailed the way forward for our diverse region with reliable energy, roads, dams and water, first world communications and funding community services in a way that suits remote communities.
Last week at the Annual Assembly of Regional Organisations of Councils, Federal Minister for Regional Services, Bridget McKenzie, and Shadow Minister Stephen Jones MP, both acknowledged the merit and need for regionally focused long-term development plans, but we need less talk and more action.
“This region of Queensland is too valuable to the national and state economy to be overlooked. It’s a kick in the guts to see a deal announced in the city when we can’t even get a commitment.”
“While we need more attention up here, it’s tough watching some politicians arguing to spend more time in their bubble in Canberra so they can continue to play political games.”
“We know many people in the real world do care and that is so important to us. So, we are asking for those who care to please help us to get the politicians to listen and we will let you know what response we get. If you haven’t made up your mind this election, maybe how they treat us in this moment – your mates up north - might just help you decide.”
“If they do the right thing, we will tell you. If they don’t, we won’t pull any punches. We aren’t Liberal, or Labor or Green or Katter or Hanson. Our only interest is building a better future for our local region.”
“After the recent heart wrenching scenes on our properties and in our communities – we want our politicians to take this opportunity to help us build a better future. That’s all we are asking.”
Download the NWQROC Six-point Plan at: http://www.nwqroc.com.au/fairegionaldeal
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Contacts available for interview:
Mayor McKinlay Shire (Julia Creek) Belinda Murphy – 0417 543 529
Mayor Flinders Shire (Hughenden) Jane McNamara – 0429 417 115
Greg Hoffman PSM - Executive Officer, NWQROC | 0418 756 005 | firstname.lastname@example.org