Cairns economy significantly reliant on hinterland industries
The Far Northern Queensland city of Cairns owes its existence to the Atherton Tablelands and the wider hinterland’s agricultural, tourist and mining industries.
This revelation was central to a public meeting held at Mareeba on Tuesday night when respected Cairns economist Bill Cummings told a large meeting of residents the hinterland contributed $4.5 billion annually to the Cairns economy.
The meeting was held to push the state government into constructing an alternative road access to Cairns, bypassing the dangerous Kuranda Range Road.
Several alternative routes were proposed at the meeting which resulted in a unanimous resolution being carried instructing the state government to begin construction of a new four lane highway by November 30, 2021.
For three generations Tablelands and Peninsula residents have had to tolerate one of the most dangerous highways in Australia that links the vast areas of the north and west to the business hub and port of Cairns.
A report commissioned by the FNQ Regional Organisation of Councils revealed the Kuranda Range Road was officially made redundant by The Main Roads in 2005.
Here we are 16 years later still suffering the ignominy of a state government that spends billions on the pampered south-east corner of the state while totally neglecting the million or more people of North Queensland.
Cairns residents don’t have to put up with inferior, dangerous roads in the same manner as its hinterland brothers. Therefore in light of the enormous economic benefit bestowed upon Cairns residents they should have the courteousness to support an essential road upgrade for the very people to whom they owe their economic existence.
Cairns road objectors should be supporting the Tablelands’ reach for a new road which will greatly enhance their economy as more and new industry will have the ability to open and expand.
Particularly as the deliberate government sabotage of tourism and small business has devastated the local Cairns economy which now hinges on the efforts of its own and hinterland industries.
The state government for the same reasons should follow suite.
A committee of concerned Tablelands’ residents was set up earlier in the year to create public awareness of the need for a new road and has succeeded in attracting at least some awareness from the Brisbane Labor Party although no Labor representatives turned up at the Mareeba meeting.
Similarly there was no response from Tablelands Regional Council Mayor Rod Marti or any supportive response from Mareeba Shire Mayor Angela Toppin.
However Mareeba and Tablelands councils are members of FNQROC which has taken up the slack on their behalf by supporting a new road. – contributed