Plan to double regional population

01 Aug, 2014 08:44 AM
Toowoomba, a Queensland regional city.
People already know we have great regional cities and towns
Toowoomba, a Queensland regional city.

QUEENSLANDERS want to move to the state's regional centres, according to Premier Campbell Newman, who has set the ambitious target of doubling the population of the regions by 2044.

After launching his Queensland Plan, the blueprint for the next 30 years of the state's growth, Mr Newman said that unlike their counterparts in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, Queenslanders had a proud history of regional migration that would continue as job prospects grew outside the state's southeast.

"There's a proud historical platform to work on compared to other states - it's all relative," he said.

"In Victoria, Melbourne is it, in South Australia it's Adelaide, and it's less so in New South Wales, but it's not the case in Queensland.

"People already know we have great regional cities and towns, places like Townsville, Cairns, Toowoomba and Maryborough."

“The Premier also affirmed his government's '100 per cent' opposition to the prevalence of fly-in, fly-out workers”

Doubling the population of the regions outside south-east Queensland is one of the key aims of the Queensland Plan, developed after consultation with 80,000 Queenslanders over the past 18 months.

Other core aims include 100 per cent literacy in primary schools and closing the gap between the lifespans of the state's indigenous and non-indigenous populations.

The Labor opposition has slammed it as "an absolute joke" and a "plan for a plan".

Shadow health minister Jo-Ann Miller told Fairfax Radio 4BC Mornings host Patrick Condren even government ministers didn't sound convinced by it.

"The people of Queensland are sick of hollow words coming from hollow men," she said.

However, she said Labor was still consultating in order to formulate its own plan.

"We have got a fly-in, fly-out premier," she said.

"This premier is flying in to Hervey Bay, he's going to drop the plan and then fly out.

"What we do is we go to the regions, we sit down with them and then we formulate our plan around that."

Mr Newman conceded the Queensland Plan was an ambitious, aspirational document but insisted it was achievable.

"It's a bold, brassy out there, make-it-happen plan, not a motherhood plan. These are fair dinkum, in-your-face targets," he said.

He said it was borne from feedback that Queenslanders want a vibrant and prosperous state with strong, liveable regions.

The Queensland Plan aims for 10 of Australia's 30 largest cities to be in the Sunshine State in three decades' time.

The key to growing the regions, the premier said, was not specifically decentralisation of government departments, though that would contribute.

Instead, it would be a focus on jobs growth through the four key sectors of tourism, construction, agriculture and resources.

"We are committed to doing that [decentralisation] but that is not how you double the population of regional Queensland - you double the population by building up jobs, health and social infrastructure, making them attractive to people, by having a policy for migration to the regions and incentives to do that," he said.

"We are working on that with the federal government. It's not just about the activities of the Queensland government. It's not just about governments being located somewhere."

He said the government was committed to decentralisation of government services to help boost jobs growth in regional centres but it was a long-term plan.

"Public servants have families, roots in their own communties, and you don't wave a magic wand. That will be a matter of government policy in the future," he said.

"It's a transitional thing," he said. "If an agency is being reviewed or a new agency is being established, we will look to relocate or establish in regional cities."

The Premier also affirmed his government's "100 per cent" opposition to the prevalence of fly-in, fly-out workers in the resources sector.

He said there were also immigration targets to help bolster the population of the regions but that focused on skilled migration.

"It's not about people coming in on various types of visa to fill slots in the employment market," he said.

"It's encouraging professionals to come to the regions."

Mr Newman said the implementation of the plan would rely largely on Queensland councils.

"It's up to local government to take from ... this plan their own opportunities and progress their own economic development plans," he said.

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Ted O'Brien.
1/08/2014 9:44:15 AM

The first thing to do is abolish the insane policy they call UnilateralTrade Reform. Then the regions can repopulate themselves.
1/08/2014 2:42:56 PM

Oh Jesus that's the last thing we want?
Eddie Randle
11/08/2014 5:01:05 AM

Having lived in rural areas since 1960 I would say that the first thing that Can Do will have to do is change the attitude of the local councils to the poor old newcomers.
22/08/2014 12:40:50 PM

The merger of local councils needs reversing to address the reduced representation that regional locals have within their locality. Health care needs to be decentralised to stimulate a transfer of wealth of retirees to the country which will cause the support industries to follow. Real estate prices in the cities are beyond sensibility when compared to many regional centres. Time for the regional councils to sharpen their pencils and look beyond their navel to capture some of the tax spend into improving essential infrastructure such as some bitumen on local roads within 20k of a town centre.


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