SIGNATURES: Jason Thomasson, Cr Neil Fisher, Jack Trenaman, Cr Rose Swadling, Cr Drew Wickerson, Cr Ellen Smith, Frank Humphreys, Mayor Margaret Strelow, Scott Stevens and Cr Tony Williams
SIGNATURES: Jason Thomasson, Cr Neil Fisher, Jack Trenaman, Cr Rose Swadling, Cr Drew Wickerson, Cr Ellen Smith, Frank Humphreys, Mayor Margaret Strelow, Scott Stevens and Cr Tony Williams RRC

It's time to speak up for regional Queensland

ROCKHAMPTON's mayor is calling on all of regional Queensland to make their voices heard to State Government decision makers with the launch of a state-wide petition calling for a Fair Go.

Margaret Strelow said regional Queensland offered solutions to the challenges of congestion, unaffordable housing and increasing infrastructure spending in the urban areas in the south-east.

Government projections show, by 2040, over 75 per cent of the state's population will reside in the south east metropolitan corner and just 13 per cent of all new jobs will be created in regional Queensland.

These figures have caused RRC and the local business community to launch the Fair Go for all Queenslanders campaign to highlight the need for State Government policies that encourage sustained investment, population growth, jobs and business prosperity in regional Queensland.

Yesterday a public petition was launched and a corresponding letter sent to the Legislative Assembly of Queensland.

 

Cr Strelow, who will argue the case on parliament's lawns this Thursday, said "sugar hit" infrastructure projects were not enough to maintain a robust local economy and further policy action was a must.

"Whilst we appreciate the licks of money, like $20 million here and $30 million there, those jobs are very short term," she said.

"What we need are decisions by government that will actively make it better and easier for business to grow in regional Queensland."

Recommendations addressed in the letter to parliament include tax concessions for those living in regional Queensland, efforts to foster employment opportunities, and "active involvement of the Department of State Development to grow self-sustaining jobs and industries in the regions.

Cr Strelow said: "the population will go where the jobs are".

Citing a newly appointed staffer at RRC who had moved to Rockhampton from the Gold Coast, she said those who moved to the regions from the south eastern metropolis, soon realised the regions offered a similar, if not better lifestyle.

Local business owners Jack Trenaman, co-director of SMW group, and owner of JRT group Jason Thomasson flanked councillors as the campaign launched yesterday.

The two businessmen collectively employ more than 500 workers in Central Queensland and spoke of the perils imposed by an increasing population and government focus on the south east.

Mr Trenaman, a direct descendant of pioneers on the Fitzroy, has an embedded history of business in the region.

He said regional Queensland had a rich history of contribution to the state's prosperity through a bounty of resources and opportunities, and it made sense to govern the regions accordingly.

 

The Fair Go for all Queenslanders campaign was summarised in a letter from Mayor Margaret Strelow to the Legislative Assembly of Queensland
The Fair Go for all Queenslanders campaign was summarised in a letter from Mayor Margaret Strelow to the Legislative Assembly of Queensland contributed

"These regional cities and towns have huge potential for growth and further contribution," he said.

An increase in southbound migration meant local businesses were forced to rely on FIFO workers who earned their money in the region but stimulated economies elsewhere.

This was another problem highlighted by Mr Trenaman.

"Having those people housed in Rockhampton, Mackay, or Gladstone has flow on affects to local jobs in tourism, beef, grain and cane," he said.

Mr Thomasson echoed much the sentiment and said many local businesses were struggling to acquire large scale and frequent projects.

"The petition will help in the way of jobs and give us some stability," he said.

"We have been struggling around the place trying to be very competitive on limited jobs, but if there is more development in mines and general industry, is will help the businesses not have to be so competitive.

 

"We would all have some work to do, but currently it's very difficult."

Mr Thomasson also said more could be done on the government's behalf to promote regional Queensland through moving government agencies to the regional cities to encourage decentralisation.

"People need to understand that the regional areas are good spots to live in," he said.

The federal election, which largely hinged on regional Queensland, was an example of the power wielded by the regions according to Mr Thomasson, thus strengthening the case for the regional voice to be heard.

"People now understand that it's not all about the cities - we have got a voice in Queensland, that's been the case in the recent election," he said.

 

Cr Neil Fisher signing the Fair Go petition
Cr Neil Fisher signing the Fair Go petition JACK EVANS

"We, as regional communities, now need to promote that."

Both Mr Trenaman and Mr Thomasson will accompany Cr Strelow and other councillors when they plead their case on the grounds of Parliament House this Thursday.

The petition is now live so the broader Queensland public can support the movement.

Cr Strelow urged those who agree to sign the petition and make their voices heard.

"Queensland is at a real cross road right now, and I believe we must change direction," she said.



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