The noise grows for a separate state of North Queensland
THERE are plenty of reasons why people like Bill Bates have been agitating since the 1800s for Queensland to be split into two separate states.
Mr Bates believes regional Queenslanders are concerned by their lack of appropriate representation at the state and federal levels of government and many feel like the wealth gathered North of the Tropic of Capricorn was largely spent in the south east corner of the state.
Do you think Queensland should be split and a new state of North Queensland formed?
This poll ended on 29 December 2017.
Yes. Now is the time.
No. Things are fine how they are.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
This regional dissatisfaction was reflected in recent state election results with a swing away from the major parties and towards protest party One Nation, who was perceived to be more in touch with regional concerns.
"Unless you've been living under a rock, I think one of the most prominent comments from people and leaders of regional Queensland is that they're not getting a fair deal from the south east," Mr Bates said.
"We've got to fight tooth and nail to get basic infrastructure, yet they can readily find $2b for an entertainment precinct.
"But we can't get a road, a dam or any other essential infrastructure."
He said by breaking away, politicians would vote for North Queensland issues and represent North Queenslanders.
"Cairns wouldn't have to wait years for some dredging, Rockhampton wouldn't have to wait years for a levvy wall," he said.
The Cairns based self funded retiree busily criss-crossed regional Queensland in the second half of 2017 in his car in order to drum up support for the state to be split in half north of Gympie.
With the lofty ambition of obtaining at least 200,000 signatures over six months to provoke State Parliament to bring about a referendum, Mr Bates only managed to secure the signatures of 629 Queensland residents on his petition.
"It was a very poor return for driving some 8000km, doing some 19 regional newspaper interviews from Weipa to Brisbane, Townsville to Mount Isa and numerous townships in between," Mr Bates said.
"However, I enjoyed the experience and accumulated a lot of information and understanding of our regional leadership.
"I would like to thank you all for giving your valuable time to listen to my details regarding the petition and especially those whom threw their support behind it."
While the number of petitioners was insufficient to ensure the petition will be dated in Parliament, Mr Bates said it was encouraging that since the recent election there had been more vocalisation of the issue of a new state in the media.
"For a 'general public' initiative to create a new state would require the mustering of small army grass-roots people such as the movement that force the NSW government to hold the 1967 referendum on formation of the State of New England," he said.
"So, if that is needed, so be it."
Mr Bates said over the new three or four months, he along with some others will develop the website bootbrisbane.com, accompanying Facebook page and email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We can raise a small army in Central and Northern Queensland relaunch an effort by June 18," he said.
Mr Bates has political backing including the Katter's Australian Party, Member for Dawson George Christensen and the Minister for Northern Australia, Rockhampton based Senator Matt Canavan.
Senator Canavan believed the state split was viable given North Queensland had twice the population of Tasmania and yet Tasmania had 12 senators compared to the two representing North Queensland.
"That's a lot of people to govern from a small corner of the south east of Queensland, often more than 1000 kilometres away," Senator Canavan said.
"I've often said we're big enough and strong enough and wealthy enough to represent ourselves.
"I reckon we'd get more things going if we didn't have the handbrakes put on us by Brisbane and Canberra."
The Senator said a referendum would be easy and questioned why people couldn't be allowed to have their say.
"There's a lot of people with different views in North Queensland," he said.
"Let us determine our own future and opportunities.
"What we really need though is for local leaders and businesses in North Queensland to express their views on this."