TOWNSVILLE and Cairns have long been seen as the capitals of the north so why couldn’t Mackay be the capital of “mid-north Queensland”?
Queensland Liberal Senator Russell Trood visited Mackay yesterday and said despite a number of issues currently impeding growth in the region, it had enormous potential under a new system of governance.
Regionalism, in which local governments are more autonomous and have added control over funding in their regions, needed to be considered as a new model of governance in the face of huge population growth around the state, Senator Trood said.
“Mackay is a growing centre with a diverse economy,” he said.
“It offers economic opportunities for this part of Queensland and has enormous potential as a centre of business and education.
“Townsville and Cairns are often referred to as the regional capitals of the north, but there’s no reason why Mackay can’t be considered a significant regional centre, perhaps even the capital of mid-north Queensland.”
Senator Trood said the scheme would realign funding across the state, stamping out complaints from those outside the south east that funding lands mainly in that area.
“The Queensland government has various kinds of districts for health, education, roads and almost all of those are misaligned.
“In Mackay almost none of those districts, which are used as a funding base for the region, are aligned with each other.
“Regionalism would empower local communities and would direct resources to priorities established locally.
“There are various models of regionalism but in the immediate future I would propose one which would involve state and federal governments co-operating with the local communities to define regions for all funding purposes – education, health, aged care, roads, etc – and these regional units developing a capacity to efficiently distribute funds throughout the region.
“It allows the area to have a greater stake in the way in which their community develops into the future.”
Senator Trood met with the Regional Economic Development Corporation, Mackay Sugar, Mackay Regional Council and the Mackay Division of General Practice yesterday.
“There is a huge problem with infrastructure restricting growth in Mackay.
“There is clearly also a challenge in relation to housing and skills.
“People working in mines removes skills from other industries,” he said.
“We need to find not only the housing for people who are moving into the region but also the opportunities for them and the skill bases that they all need.”
Mackay’s population grew by more than 35,000 between 2001 and 2009.
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