Townsville North Queensland encompasses five major regional centres: Townsville, Charters Towers, Burdekin, Palm Island and Hinchinbrook. The region contributes over $14.1B annually to the Queensland economy and is home to nearly 240,000 people. Townsville itself is now Australia’s 13th largest city and is acknowledged by State and National Governments as the “Capital of Northern Australia”. The region has one of the most diverse economic bases in Australia and enjoys a stunning natural environment that provides tourism growth opportunities and an attractive lifestyle for its residents.

Key state and national policy documents highlight the critical importance of Townsville and North Queensland as a driver of national economic growth and job creation. The signing of Australia’s first ever City Deal for Townsville is testament to the commitment of three levels of Government to drive economic growth, unlock potential for
the broader region and encourage business and industry development to help Townsville and North Queensland become:

  • the economic gateway to Asia and Northern Australia
  • a global leader in tropical and marine research and innovation
  • a prosperous and highly-liveable city for residents and visitors

But Townsville and its immediate region has been doing it tough in recent years and needs targeted government investment and policy support to reverse economic decline.

The flow-on impacts associated with the closure of the Yabulu Nickel Refinery in early 2016 and the loss of over 800 direct jobs are still being realised. Regional unemployment remains very high at nearly 10% and youth unemployment at almost 20%. Investment in projects such as the North Queensland Stadium and the Singapore-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership are welcome initiatives that are applauded in the region, but much more needs to be done if the region’s true potential is to be unlocked for local, state and national benefit.

Projects and policies that promote economic diversification and growth are key and leading those priorities is a major focus on the issues of Water and Energy. For a region abundant with natural resources, it is no longer acceptable for our businesses and our community to live with the unsustainable costs of accessing these basic necessities and this budget submission strongly focuses on addressing these two economic development inhibitors. 

Supporting the Water and Energy priorities are a package of projects and policies that will drive new job generation, create economic opportunity and encourage business and industry to invest.
Townsville Enterprise is calling on the Federal Government to commit to the following:

Enabling Infrastructure: Successfully accommodate growth now and into the future with a reliable and secure water and energy supply

• Water Security
• Sustainable North Queensland Energy Pricing and Infrastructure
• Establishment of the North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR)

Population Growth: Townsville population target and relocation of Government bodies

• High growth population target commitment
• Implement whole-of-government North Australia Population Policy
• Regional Senate Committee hearing on the potential for ‘Government Bodies Relocation’

Insurance: Affordable insurance for North Queensland

• Establish “Cyclone Mitigation Plan”
• Enquiry into the economic and social impact of deteriorating regional costs and standards of living

Defence: Townsville to become Australia’s Northern Defence Hub

• Development of an ADF ‘Townsville Defence Procurement Strategy’
• Adjustment of ADF procurement policies
• Defence trade training schools and maintenance units based in Townsville
• Centre for Amphibious Capability

Innovative & Connected City: Marine Research

• Development of Australian Tropical Marine and Aquaculture Centre