Rape of the North

Townsville Bulletin - - Letters -

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.

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