North Queensland is a rich and colourful region that has always held pride and place in the Queensland economy. We are the largest city above the Tropic of Capricorn, we have the strength of a $16b economy where no one sector represents more than 20% of our Gross Regional Product (GRP), and we are home to where some of Australia’s most iconic natural landscapes merge. A place where we have certainly won the golden ticket of economics, where the opportunities are endless, and dreams have the most potential to become reality.
We are extremely proud of where we live and are blessed with first-class natural and built assets. There are not too many places in the world that can say they balance living with two World Heritages Listed areas – the Wet Tropics to the North and the Great Barrier Reef on our Eastern doorstep. Then we look to the beauty of the outback in the West sitting above one of the world’s richest mineral provinces, the Bowen and Galilee coal basins are to our South, and we are surrounded by vast agricultural lands. We’re home to Australia’s largest Defence base, we have metals processing and export out of our Port, the largest public hospital north of Noosa, the number one university in marine science at James Cook University, and two premiership winning sporting clubs in the Cowboys and Fire. That’s a pretty diverse and sophisticated mix of assets which we know is not for us to take for granted.
We appreciate how special this place is and balancing these diverse gifts and the enormous contribution from our community working in those sectors. But realising opportunity has still never been easy and over the years a strength and tenacity has built up in the bellies of North Queenslanders to ensure we leverage these assets and convert our dreams to reality. This determination and persistence in our region’s advocacy is not new and as I reflect upon the last few years I look at some of the collaborative advocacy activities and the results today.
We’ve seen the opening of the $293m Queensland Country Bank Stadium and secured world-class events, launched the Museum of Underwater Art, the $193m Port Channel widening is underway, the Haughton Duplication Pipeline is securing Townsville’s water supply, Adani’s $2b Carmichael Mine is under construction with its regional headquarters based in Townsville, we became a leading cruise ship destination, and the approval of the $2.2m Hells Gates Dam Feasibility Study and Business Case has this major agriculture and irrigation scheme moving ahead with more momentum than ever before.
Not to mention recent commitments secured across the State Election and Federal Budget towards Big Rocks Weir, CopperString 2.0, Drive It, upgrading ReefHQ, Townsville Hospital infrastructure, tourism marketing funding, and safeguarding the 1000 North and North West Queensland jobs that rely on Glencore keeping its doors open.
These are just some of the wins for a region that has been united in advocacy efforts to secure commitments and a Local, State and Federal Government that worked with the private sector to make it happen. It wasn’t always smooth sailing, but we got there.
As business representatives, we have been consistent in our advocacy to position the North for a strong future. As Northerners, we are passionate about progressing this part of the world and whilst at times we have different views on what progress looks like, we all want one thing for the people of North Queensland and that is jobs for our people today, tomorrow and into our future.
What North and North West Queensland has been through, particularly in the past 18 months, has been nothing short of extraordinary. This has meant that our long history of advocating for pipelines of job creating and economically resilient projects for the region has never been more important.
We are a different and colourful mix of people in the North, and we are proud of who we are and this special place we call home. Seeing those local projects come online, the jobs they’ve been providing, and the families they’ve been supporting are symbols of what happens when a community rallies together. A symbol of vision, a symbol of hope and a symbol of converting pictures on a page to cold hard reality. It’s a symbol of successful execution.
And now, as our state, nation and globe emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, our economic landscape has dramatically shifted once more, and now more than ever jobs for our region must continue as the number one priority. But despite a decade of challenges, we are not pushing a message of sorrow and despair, but instead selling a message of hope and opportunity with a clear roadmap showing how the North is the key to unlocking jobs for the State and Nation.
North Queensland has the people, the potential and the projects that can support our State and Nation’s long-term economic recovery, and we will continue to support our business community’s recovery and build resilience for the next decade by driving this agenda. We do remain strong, we do remain resilient, and we are optimistic about our future.