Regions unite to be heard
WE ARE the state's fattest cash cow but Mackay residents feel they aren't getting enough in return.
Although northern Queensland regions are the driving force behind the state economy, they're only a small voice that isn't being heard.
Driven to speak out louder, the four regions north of the Tropic of Capricorn that fuel the bulk of the economy have rallied together, taken a stance and gained a booming voice.
Regional Development Australia Mackay Whitsunday chief executive officer Nicole Duguid said the regions, which include Far North Queensland, Townsville and North West, Mackay Whitsunday and Fitzroy and Central West, had ramped up their presence and were lobbying for more economic recognition.
"We want people to realise the enormous potential and economic benefits that are available across the regional areas," Ms Duguid said.
"But for these regional areas to really prosper, there needs to be more funding on essential infrastructure."
"For north Queensland, the importance should be on rail, road and port infrastructure... to get the sugar and coal to export."
Mackay Regional Mayor Deirdre Comerford agreed and said it would only mean good things for Mackay if the regions worked together.
"What they are doing is making a point," Cr Comerford said
"We want our region to be recognised for what it is... it's fuelling the Queensland economy but they need to realise what effects this has on people in the region."
Roads, water, housing and sewerage were some of the big infrastructure needs of regional areas, she said.
REDC chief executive officer Narelle Pearse said while the Royalties to Regions program was good, more needed to be done.
"We contribute $17 billion to the economy," Ms Pearse said.
"The Royalties to Regions will be too slow and not enough."
State Member for Mackay Tim Mulherin said he was behind the initial push to rally the regions.
Last year he signed an agreement with Federal Minister for Regional Australia Simon Crean to start the northern Queensland strategic development plan.
"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."
What it means
- A united front that will speak/vote as one on regional issues.
- Stronger push to get more of the wealth generated in the area to stay in the area.
- A bigger push for essential infrastructure - the state of the Bruce Hwy affects all regions.