NORTHERN Australia would be much weaker without us.
That was the message chorused by Central Queensland leaders who have joined the fight to have our region represented in the Federal Government's Developing Northern Australia plan.
They have rallied after Capricornia MP Michelle Landry last week "declared war" on far north Queensland, claiming its industry, research and political leaders had hijacked the decision-making process.
The CQ leaders are concerned that our region has been overlooked as a key player. They are demanding that it gets the recognition it deserves as the social and economic powerhouse of Northern Australia.
Their concerns are spelled out in a letter being sent to Prime Minister Tony Abbott. It carries more than 20 signatories, including state and federal MPs, mayors and business leaders.
Among them is CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor Professor Scott Bowman.
On Friday, he applauded the Northern Australia initiative but said Central Queensland had been "invisible in the process".
THE MAIN CONCERNS
The Green Paper on Northern Australia failed to even list Rockhampton on a map of the Northern Australian zone. Rockhampton was mentioned only four times in the 116-page Green Paper.
CQUniversity, the single largest university in Northern Australia, was left out of the Green Paper.
A far northern consortium, called the Northern Australian Cooperative Research Centre failed to include CQUniversity as an equal partner around its research table.
No Central Queenslander was included on a new Northern Australia Advisory Group which will advise the Prime Minister.
He was also critical of the process that saw CQUniversity excluded as a full participant from the proposed $150million Northern Agriculture Co-operative Research Centre, which is likely to be established out of the Northern Australia plan.
"I think it's just madness that you put together a bid of three university partners, one of them outside of Northern Australia, and you don't include the university with the best outcomes for agricultural research in the country," he said.
"If you are going to do things like that and you are going to overlook Central Queensland and CQUniversity, you're just not going to get good outcomes."
Prof Bowman said CQ could not afford to miss out on the investment and infrastructure opportunities that would flow from the Northern Australia plan. Equally, Northern Australia could not afford to miss out on CQ's assets and expertise.
"One of the main reasons we've got to be in there and be a very important part of this is this is going to be a major government initiative for the next 20 to 30 years, regardless of who's in power in Canberra.
"If we're not in there then Northern Australia is that much weaker. It is great that we're taking off the cloak of invisibility and want to be seen in this."