Unlock the North Canberra Delegation | Day 1 & 2

24th February 2021

The first two days of the Unlock the North delegation to Parliament House in Canberra this week has seen Townsville Enterprise and North Queensland Councils directly engaging with Ministers, Shadow Ministers, Cross Benchers, Chiefs of Staff and Senior Advisors across a range of key portfolios for our region.

Defence and Energy have been two areas highlighted over the past two days with meetings with Commodore Eric Young who is overseeing the $2.25B Australia Singapore Military Training Initiative (ASMTI), Assistant Minister for Defence Andrew Hastie, and Senior Advisers to the Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds and Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price.

The NQ SPARK project and the ASMTI have been key projects of these discussions and the opportunities the developments can generate for business and jobs across Townsville, Charters Towers and the broader North Queensland region. The unique confluence of education and health with Defence through our world leading institutions in James Cook University and the Townsville University Hospital was also discussed.

Today we also met with the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack who is always generous with his time in both Townsville and here in Canberra. Our delegation appreciated the opportunity to update the Deputy Prime Minister on the Hells Gates Dam Irrigation Scheme and Pumped Hydro Business Case, the Lansdown Eco- Industrial Precinct, TropIQ Health and Knowledge Precinct, Defence industry building, and how projects such as CopperString 2.0 have the potential to drive down the cost of energy whilst opening up $680B worth of critical minerals in the North West.

Insurance was also a key issue raised during the meeting and we appreciate the Member for Dawson George Christensen's firm focus on ensuring this can be resolved once and for all for North Queensland households and businesses through solutions such as a reinsurance pool. We also acknowledge the strong position from the Member for Herbert Phil Thompson on this issue that there has been a market failure of an essential service.

We thank the Deputy Prime Minister for his acknowledgement of our united approach to progressing our region, and in turn the state and nation, and our solution based strategies to economic development. It was great to be joined by our local Federal Members, and strong voices in the Capital, Member for Herbert Phil Thompson, Senator Susan McDonald, and Member for Dawson George Christensen.

We have also met with Minister for Cities and Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher to discuss the Townsville City Deal and progressing the key projects included in this landmark deal.

The delegation today met with Deputy Leader of the Nationals in the Senate, Senator Matt Canavan, who expressed a welcomed interest specifically in our region’s shovel ready projects that can create jobs and get boots on the ground now. This provided the opportunity to specifically promote shovel ready regional council projects such as the Ayr Macro-Algae Bioremediation Project, Ayr Industrial Land, and the Hinchinbrook Agricultural Diversification Project, in addition to nation building projects in our region.

The Member for Kennedy Bob Katter was also briefed on these important regional council projects today, and we thank him for his time also discussing industry capacity building and growth areas in North Queensland on top of our traditional industries of agriculture and mining.

From the Opposition, today we briefed the recently appointed Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen on game-changing renewable industry projects in the region such as the proposed Hells Gates Pumped Hydro Project, CopperString 2.0, and the Lansdown Eco-Industrial Precinct.

The Delegation also met with Chris Ketter - Senior Adviser to Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Marles, whose portfolio of employment, skills and small business was a key area discussed in regard to the challenges North Queensland businesses face with a skills shortage.

Last night our North Queensland delegation was hosted by Member for Herbert Phillip Thompson and
Queensland Senator Susan McDonald at Parliament House for an evening in the Members Dining Room.

We thank our local members and their offices for making this opportunity possible.

Article published 23/02/2021

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