The first two days of the Unlock the North virtual delegation to Canberra has seen Townsville Enterprise along with the mayors of Townsville, Burdekin, Hinchinbrook and Charters Towers meet directly with Ministers, Shadow Ministers, Cross Benchers, Chiefs of Staff and Senior Advisors across a range of key portfolios for our region.
Despite not being able to have a physical presence in Canberra this year, due to Parliament's COVID policy, the region has a strong and united voice as we head towards a federal budget, and election.
Our first meeting of the delegation with Hon Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, was an opportunity to bring to the forefront some of the challenges that the tourism industry is facing in securing affordable public liability insurance. This is a key issue which was recently addressed in Townsville Enterprise's submission to the Federal Government as part of the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman review. Read More here. Business enabling policy to address skills shortages, banking and housing challenges were also high on the agenda.
From the Opposition, today the delegation met with Chris Ketter - Senior Adviser to Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Marles, whose portfolio of National Reconstruction, Employment, Skills and Small Business, and Science, provided an opportunity to discuss the nationally significant potential of TropIQ, a tropical intelligence and health precinct development in Townsville that could attract additional investment in world-leading innovation, research and entrepreneurship.
Today also saw a productive discussion with the office of Hon Anthony Albanese MP, Leader of the Opposition and Hon Catherine King MP, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development. This meeting was a great opportunity to raise the regions critical infrastructure needs, of particular note CooperString 2.0. A $1.2 billion loan facility from the North Australia Infrastructure Fund is required to see the 1000 km CopperString 2.0 transmission network extend from Woodstock to Mount Isa - connecting the North West Minerals Province to the National Electricity Network. The project could help unlock more than $740 billion in known resources and support 3,500 ongoing jobs.
The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for Environment and her Chief of Staff James Thomas were briefed on the RegenAqua Water Treatment project. Following, the Federal Government's announcement for a major $1 billion investment into the Great Barrier Reef, the RegenAqua project is an ideal homegrown technology that is proven and ready to be commercialised. RegenAqua has been Developed using world leading technology pioneered by world leader James Cook University (JCU) in partnership with Pacific Biotechnologies Pty Limited (PacBio), an innovative 100% Australian owned company. The system was developed as a solution to reduce nutrient discharge on PacBio’s aquaculture assets, however highly successful trials at Cleveland Bay and more recently at the Burdekin Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTP) have proven the technology as an effective, low cost, scalable solution for all Councils.
This afternoon the delegation met with senior advisors David Gavin and Ross McDonald from the Government's Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs portfolio. With the region already facing workforce shortages and thousands of new jobs forecast over the next decade, todays discussions centred around the need for our region to be approved under a Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA).
As the home of Australia's largest defence base, our final meeting of the day with Hon Melissa Price, Minister for Defence, Industry, Science and Technology was an opportunity to provide updates on projects including NQ SPARK, Joint Amphibious Force Capability, Black Hawk Deeper Maintenance and Singapore to Darwin Submarine Cable Connection to Townsville.