North cops a raw deal

South-east gets 89% of fund­ing for its 58% of pop­u­la­tion

Townsville Bulletin - - Front Page - By TONY RAGGATT busi­ness ed­i­tor

THE State La­bor Gov­ern­ment has been ac­cused of milk­ing the North to fund ser­vices in the south.

And the fig­ures be­ing quoted by de­vel­op­ment author­ity Townsville En­ter­prise and busi­ness lead­ers ap­pear to bear this out.

How­ever, the of­fice of Deputy Pre­mier and Min­is­ter for In­fra­struc­ture Anna Bligh has de­nied North Queens­land was get­ting a raw deal.

A spokesman said w h i l e s o u t h - e a s t Queens­land re­ceived sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing there was ev­i­dence projects were funded at Townsville as well.

Gov­ern­ment ad­ver­tis­ing in the leadup to Christ­mas claim­ing it was pro­vid­ing the in­fra­struc­ture to meet cur­rent and fu­ture reg i o n a l n e e d s h a s prompted an an­gry re­sponse from civic and busi­ness lead­ers.

Com­merce Queens­land pres­i­dent Beatrice Booth said there were in­stances, such as the build­ing of the Gold Coast high­way, where road fund­ing had been taken from north­ern bud­gets to fund cost blowouts in the south.

She said 20 per cent of the peo­ple in North Queens­land were con­tribut­ing 60 per cent of the wealth and de­served bet­ter.

‘‘While we re­spect the fact that the pop­u­la­tion growth in south- east Queens­land is large, it can’t be de­nied that the state of our north­ern high­way is much less than ad­e­quate,’’ she said.

She said while the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment funded high­ways, the State de­cided where the money was spent.

Townsville En­ter­prise eco­nomic de­velo p me n t ma n a g e r Frank Dallmeyer said $66 bil­lion or 89 per cent of to­tal spend­ing of $74 bil­lion on State in­fra­struc­ture projects cur­rently in the pipe­line was be­ing di­rected to the south-east cor­ner.

He said this was de­spite the fact that 42 per cent of the peo­ple lived out­side the south­east cor­ner.

‘‘That shows a strong dis­par­ity in where the in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture is hap­pen­ing at the mo­ment,’’ Mr Dallmeyer said.

‘‘That’s cer­tainly a con­cern to Townsville En­ter­prise.

‘‘We think this is a time for the Gov­ern­ment to demon­strate it is se­ri­ous about spread­ing pop­u­la­tion and eco­nomic a c t i v i t y rather than con­cen­trat­ing ev­ery­thing in the south-east cor­ner where the lim­i­ta­tions on vi­tal re­sources are very vis­i­ble.’’

Townsville Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Craig Stack said the cham­ber was con­cerned the Gov­ernme n t w a s u n d e r - es­ti­mat­ing the pop­u­la­tion growth in North Q u e e n s l a n d a n d wanted its pro­jec­tions re­viewed. He said North Queens­land was out­per­form­ing the less than 3000 peo­ple a year the Gov­ern­ment pro­jec­tions were fore­cast­ing.

‘‘There’s a re­quire­ment to treat the de­vel­op­ment of in­fra­struc­ture more se­ri­ously,’’ Mr Stack said.

‘‘In­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment is in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant for us.’’

Townsville Mayor Tony Mooney said he was not about to say the re­gion re­ceived enough from the State Gov­ern­ment but did ac­knowl­edge t h a t al­most $100 mil­lion had been con­trib­uted for wa­ter and waste­water projects here. He said the only way the prosp e r i t y o f N o r t h Queens­land would be kept here was to form a new state of North Queens­land ‘but I don’t see that hap­pen­ing any time soon’.

‘‘I just have to get used to the fact that I have to con­tinue to lobby for projects,’’ he s a i d . Thuringowa Mayor Les Tyrell said the city had achieved great suc­cess with fund­ing for projects such as River­way and com­mit­ments for road fund­ing in­clud­ing the four-lan­ing of Her­veys Range Road to the Bohle start­ing next year. How­ever, he said un­til the North se­cured a re­gional plan and com­mit­ments for in­fra­struc­ture fund­ing, as had oc­curred in the south-east, it was be­ing treated dif­fer­ently.

‘‘We can do all the re­gional plan­ning we like but un­less we get a com­mit­ment to fund­ing for in­fra­struc­ture then that plan­ning can’t go any­where,’’ he said.

PRI­OR­I­TIES . . . much of the State fund­ing in the North is in sup­port of min­ing in­fra­struc­ture

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.