A proposal to create new state of North Queensland has been around for decades but momentum is gathering among fed-up Far Northerners who attended the ‘Boot Brisbane’ forum on Wednesday night.
The first State of Origin match for the year did not deter more than 80 supporters from packing the Brother’s club boardroom in Cairns to hear a decisive argument for the north to break away from a decadent south east corner.
A southern border following the Tropic of Capricorn north of Rockhampton would ultimately foster great prosperity for a languishing North Queensland economy.
Katters Australian Party parliamentary representatives, Robbie Katter, Shane Knuth, Nick Dametto and newest recruit Senator Fraser Anning joined Member for Kennedy Bob Katter who held the floor with compelling economic data compiled by Cairns economist Bill Cummings.
Mr Katter said necessary infrastructure had been neglected by successive state and federal governments and there was no alternative but to allow North Queenslanders to govern themselves because much of the State’s economy was generated north of Rockhampton.
“The State Government has committed $7.5 billion – $2 billion for pleasure domes and $5.5 billion for yet another tunnel in Brisbane.
“There’s just no way that a budget of $54 billion can take a hit of $7.5 billion and have something left over for the rest of the state and the further away from Brisbane then the less money you will get. While they’ve got $5 billion to improve their transportation systems, four years ago we did not get a single cent for road improvement in North Queensland except for a roundabout at Port Douglas that was it.
“We got a roundabout at Port Douglas worth half a million dollars and Brisbane got $3 billion for tunnels and this is going to go on.”
Mr Katter accused the governments of failing to understand industry and economic development in the North.
“You are not allowed to use a drop of water for irrigation in North Queensland except if you make outrageous, corrupt payments to political parties – that’s the only way you’ll ever get a drop of water in North Queensland for irrigation and yet, if North Queensland were a separate country we would be the wettest country on earth.
“We’ve got these huge resources and we’re not allowed to use them so we can’t develop. “We’re not allowed to dredge the Port of Cairns; one of most significant tourist destinations in the world.
“Don’t expect any new dams from the State Government for the Tablelands anytime soon.”
Former Mulgrave Councillor Ron Crew explained how Cairns and the hinterland agricultural industry lost $35 million a year due to a lack of infrastructure projects
“The government won’t agree to dredge the port in a reasonable manner, yet we have the largest population adjacent to any port in northern Australia and agriculture can’t expand,” Mr Crew said.
From a legal point of view the creation of a new state was a simple exercise according to Townsville barrister Peter Raffles, one of the first law graduates from JCU in 1991.
Mr Raffles cited a High Court case in 1978 whether the approval of a majority of electors for surrendering a State and the acceptance by the Commonwealth is necessary and the ability of the Queensland Parliament to legislate for the excising of a new State.
“The State Parliament can do it and no referendum is required,” he said.