As Australia continues to grapple with the economic impacts of COVID-19, through its 2021 Federal Budget Submission, Townsville Enterprise has this week provided a roadmap that urges the Federal Government to unlock North Queensland through policy reform and investment towards key industries that can play a critical role in the nation’s recovery.
The 2021 Townsville North Queensland Federal Government Budget Submission, developed with Townsville, Burdekin, Charters Towers, Hinchinbrook, and Palm Island councils and the business community, outlines how the Commonwealth can fast-track support to ramp up private investment and jobs in North Queensland for the betterment of the nation.
Hells Gates Dam, lowering energy costs through projects like CopperString 2.0, the Mount Isa to Townsville Supply Chain, Defence industry building through NQ SPARK, further investment into upgrading Reef HQ Aquarium, the Lansdown Eco-Industrial Precinct, and regional insurance and taxation reform are just some of the nationally significant projects and policies deserving of Government support at a critical time in Australia’s history.
Townsville Enterprise Interim CEO Wayde Chiesa said over the course of 2020 COVID-19 illustrated just how important North Queensland is to the nation’s economy.
“Without the region’s key industries such as Agriculture, Mining, Minerals Processing, Defence and Health, the national economy would look much different today,” said Mr Chiesa.
“Whilst no industry or region has been immune to the impacts of the pandemic, and despite still recovering from natural disasters, our region did and can play a leading role in our national recovery and keep Australians in jobs.
“There are more than $680 billion worth of untapped commodities along the North West minerals province, if we were to unlock even a quarter of this by providing affordable power and more efficient transport networks, we can only imagine the jobs it can create for our community.”
“Our Unlock the North platform aligns well with the Prime Minister’s address at the National Press Club on Monday where he outlined his five priorities for 2021 in which his second priority behind the vaccine roll-out is cementing Australia’s economic recovery to create jobs underpinned by the delivery of affordable power.
“The Federal Government has acknowledged over the past decade the critical importance of Northern Australia to generate jobs and opportunity for the nation. And whilst we thank the Federal Government for providing businesses and households invaluable support to weather the pandemic, now is the time to act on Northern Australia’s potential and convert these visions and white papers into real investment and jobs.”
The Budget Submission not only includes a strong pipeline of nation-building projects to help the north help Australia, but also highlights several issues acting as a handbrake, restricting the region from reaching its full potential, including the cost and coverage of insurance and the overdue need for reliable and affordable power.
Townsville Enterprise will lead a delegation of the region’s Mayors and project proponents to Canberra later this month to meet with all sides of politics to promote the importance of the projects and policies included in the submission ahead of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s May Budget.
Mr Chiesa thanked the Member for Herbert Phil Thompson, Member for Dawson George Christensen, and Senator for Queensland Susan McDonald who, armed with this submission, are supporting the delegation’s meeting program in Canberra.
Mr Chiesa said with the right policy framework around insurance, energy and taxation, and a commitment to enabling infrastructure, North Queensland can drive population growth and increase private investment.
“With the right fundamentals in place the north will be able to do even more to develop and attract the skills and population base we need to lever our natural strengths for the benefit of the nation,” he said.
“As we look towards one of our most important Federal Budgets, our regional leaders have the roadmap and plan for thousands of jobs, and given what has been happening in other parts of Australia and the fact our region has been a COVID free environment for some time, the importance of the North to generate wealth for this country has never been more critical.”