The $5.1 billion region of North West Queensland was put firmly in the political spotlight as community leaders launched their first election campaign platform in Canberra on 26 November.
Chair of the North West Regional Organisation of Councils, Mayor Jack Bawden led the delegation representing a diverse, powerhouse of a region around the size of Tasmania and Victoria combined.
Cr Bawden said the leaders had come together to ensure a strategic, collective voice was heard on the national stage to make sure their communities and local businesses stay productive for the future.
“We were congratulated on our approach with the platform well received as clear, concise and focused,” Cr Bawden said.
“The politicians we met from government, opposition and cross-bench welcomed a regional approach. This not only gives them an insight into our region but also pinpoints what we want. Our regional approach has provided them with a clear framework for delivery of a regional plan.
“We’re pleased to note another positive outcome was the politicians and staffers commenting on their improved understanding of the positive impact our region has on the nation's economy.
While our region may be remote and sparsely populated, it makes a major economic contribution to our nation. North West Queenslanders contribute nearly three times more per capita to the rest of the country - some $176,000 per capita to the national economy compared to $66,000 from elsewhere in Queensland.
Cr Bawden said: “Despite this significant impact on our nation’s economy, we don’t see the return on investment we deserve.”
“Launching our six-point platform is the first step in an ongoing effort. We’ll be going beyond our boundaries and taking our messages to the voters around Australia who like us, are fed up and want to take back control of our future,” he said.
“The six-point plan clearly outlines 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.
As part of their ongoing engagement with the Federal Government, the delegation met with a number of Ministers, Shadow Ministers, Members and Senators, across a jam-packed two day agenda on Monday 26 and Tuesday 27 November.
“These meetings were a key part in starting the conversation with politicians and letting them know we are determined to put our region on the agenda and be a pain if we have to.”
“We’re not aligned to any party, or any particular agenda. Our platform represents the needs of our communities and we’re meeting with representatives from across the board to drive home these messages.”
“Our meetings were very positive, and we look forward to putting our six-point election platform into action,” Cr Bawden said.
The delegation of community leaders included the mayors from Carpentaria Shire Council, Burke Shire Council, Cloncurry Shire Council, Flinders Shire Council, McKinlay Shire Council, Mount Isa City Council and Richmond Shire Council.