Rape of the North
THE figures being quoted by city leaders about the disparity of spending on services in Queensland are of great concern. It has long been said, particularly here in Townsville, a distant 1300 kilometres from the seat of power in Brisbane, that the resources of the North are being plundered to pay for services in the south. Here, in articles published today, is some evidence of this staring us smack in the face. According to development authority Townsville Enterprise, 89 per cent, or $66 billion, of a total $74 billion earmarked for state infrastructure is being directed to projects in the south-east corner. A look at the Government’s capital works spending in the current year — just months after an election and all those capricious promises from grinning politicians — shows the northern region based on Townsville is not getting its fair share. While the northern region has 5.2 per cent of the State’s population, just 2.8 per cent or $16.8 million of the capital works health budget is being spent here. It may be just one year — perhaps an anomaly — but the fact that the city’s hospital is supposed to act as the tertiary treatment centre for much of regional Queensland makes this even more concerning. Worse still, on a population basis the northern region received less than its share in education, main roads, police, disability services, energy, environmental protection, sport and recreation, public works, state development, trade and innovation, and transport. As Commerce Queensland president Beatrice Booth says, 20 per cent of the people, those based in North Queensland, are contributing 60 per cent of the wealth and they deserve better — much better. Yet what we get from Brisbane to defend this position is a couple of lines from a spokesman — a spokesman for Deputy Premier Anna Bligh — saying that while there is significant funding earmarked for the south, there is evidence projects are being funded at Townsville as well. We are being fobbed off, treated with contempt. One might ask where the politicians are — Mike Reynolds, the Speaker of Parliament, Craig Wallace, Natural Resources Minister, Lindy Nelson-Carr, Environment Minister — who should be rallying to our cause. They are all Townsville-based MPs and yet seemingly don’t have the ticker to represent the people who put them there. The case for a North Queensland state would appear to be as strong now as it was more than a century ago.