North cops a raw deal
South-east gets 89% of funding for its 58% of population
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