North can state its case at talk­fest

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

IMAG­INE all the univer­sity de­grees and politi­cian hours that have achieved the fol­low­ing bril­liant out­come. We now have three lev­els of gov­ern­ment with dif­fer­ent def­i­ni­tions of North Queens­land.

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s white pa­per de­fines North Queens­land as Queens­land north of the Tropic of Capricorn. The Queens­land Gov­ern­ment de­fines North Queens­land as the com­bi­na­tion of lo­cal gov­ern­ments from Mackay north­wards and lo­cally we have Townsville En­ter­prise, largely sup­ported by our lo­cal coun­cils, pro­mot­ing North Queens­land as the five lo­cal coun­cils in the ABS de­fined Townsville Re­gion.

Yes all three lev­els of gov­ern­ment agree to dis­agree on a sim­ple and ef­fec­tive def­i­ni­tion of North Queens­land. If it weren’t a se­ri­ous mar­ket­ing chal­lenge for the Mag­netic Coast it would be fod­der for a com­edy like Yes Min­is­ter.

Maybe the North Aus­tralia con­ven­tion be­ing held in Townsville can sort it out and maybe they can an­swer the ques­tion why there are no states in their def­i­ni­tion of North Aus­tralia. States and cap­i­tals get all the GST and have ma­jor fis­cal in­flu­ence. Why not a state in North Aus­tralia that sup­ports our peo­ple?

There needs to be open, ed­u­cated and ma­ture dis­cus­sion about cre­at­ing new states right across Aus­tralia to bring gov­ern­ment closer to the peo­ple. In­ter­est­ingly Queens­land Sen­a­tor Matt Cana­van has joined the grow­ing group of fed­eral politi­cians who are pros­e­cut­ing for more states in Aus­tralia.

Un­sur­pris­ingly this group com­prises re­gional- based politi­cians sup­port­ing bet­ter gov­ern­ment for all Aus­tralians.

When de­vel­oped, the Con­sti­tu­tion ac­com­mo­dated the cre­ation of new states. The in­ten­tion and vi­sion was clear. There have been sev­eral at­tempts us­ing sec­tions of the Con­sti­tu­tion to cre­ate new states and even for states to se­cede from the Com­mon­wealth.

Each se­ces­sion­ist ref­er­en­dum has been worth­while, be­cause you don’t get marked down for stand­ing up for your re­gion but more im­por­tantly some ref­er­en­dums and de­bates achieved sig­nif­i­cant fis­cal re­wards.

In 1933 Western Aus­tralia suc­cess­fully voted for se­ces­sion from Aus­tralia. They sent the bill off to Lon­don who promptly sent it back and asked ‘ Cant­berra’ to deal with it. ‘ Cant­berra’ re­jected it but the re­ward for iso­lated pros­per­ous Western Aus­tralia was the cre­ation of the Com­mon­wealth Grants Com­mis­sion. We have those brave peo­ple to thank for en­dur­ing and im­proved state fis­cal equal­i­sa­tion.

Is it time re­gional Aus­tralia pros­e­cuted a sim­i­lar case?

Ap­par­ently Sen­a­tor Cana­van plans to put a sub­mis­sion into the Fed­er­a­tion White Pa­per, re­new­ing the push for a new state “to bet­ter rep­re­sent” Queens­land’s north.

This is a way to rep­re­sent the peo­ple liv­ing in our re­gion. There’s a chance the sep­a­rate state con­cept will suc­ceed but what con­ces­sion would you seek in re­turn for loy­alty? Ac­cess to di­rect GST dis­tri­bu­tions from the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment?

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