On January 29 in my Outlook for 2018, I noted to you all that North Queensland was emerging from a tough period and that 2018 would be a critical year for our region. I acknowledged that we must all work harder and more collaboratively to secure further public and private investment, with our role at Townsville Enterprise to rally the troops and drive that action. Twelve months on, as I sit here today reflecting on the year that was, I am proud to say that the strategy of 'hunting as a pack' has paid off.
It has been a year unlike any other in our region’s recent history. Some may say we pushed the boundaries, but as a united 'Team Townsville North Queensland' and with our sleeves rolled up, we secured several major outcomes as a result of our region's private and public sector working together for the growth of the north.
On top of $200 million to fully fund Stage 2 of the Haughton Pipeline, $54 million to kick start phase 1 of the Hells Gates Dam Project (secured following the announcement of its feasibility), and the Port’s Channel Widening commencing, we recently saw the finalisation of the Australian Singapore Military Training Initiative land deal, Sun Metals’ expansion received the greenlight, Adani’s Carmichael Mine secured finance, and Air North announced a Gold Coast flight connection. This is on top of every day, pylon by pylon, seeing our new stadium become a reality.
We also welcomed 22,000+ passengers and crew off 18 cruise ships, including the opportunity for locals to embark on a cruise holiday directly from Townsville for the very first time. Business and sporting events secured through the Townsville North Queensland Bid Fund injected over $7.2M into our local economy, $475K was secured to identify agricultural opportunities for North Queensland, and our region was recognised at the Queensland Tourism Awards bringing home four Gold Awards and three Bronze.
The regional economy is expected to recover over the coming years, however the pace and scale of recovery will be contingent on continuing to secure major projects currently under consideration. These include progressing the Hells Gates Dam business case and the $2 million received towards the Museum of Underwater Art, the 6ha Strand Lagoon, leveraging the bilateral relationship with Singapore, and upgrading Reef HQ.
Whilst we have finished the year strongly and lead into 2019 with significant momentum, we remain acutely aware of the challenges still facing our region. We will maintain a firm focus on the areas crippling local business, such as the escalating costs of power, and will unashamedly fight for projects that will create employment opportunities for the 8,000 still currently looking for work.
Thank you for standing with us over the past 12 months. We call on nearly all of you across a range of activities and initiatives throughout the year and could not perform our role without your support. We look forward to strengthening these partnerships and working side by side with you for another 12 months to continue making a difference in Townsville North Queensland today, tomorrow, and in the future. On behalf of the Townsville Enterprise team and Board , I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy, safe and prosperous New Year.
Townsville North Queensland 2018 outcomes