North Queensland’s Regional Leaders Release Budget Priorities

14th May 2024

Ahead of tonight’s Federal budget release, Townsville Enterprise has unveiled the 2024 Townsville North Queensland Unlock the North advocacy publication, which outlines the strategic priorities and projects that, when delivered, will cement Townsville North Queensland as one of the most liveable region’s in Australia, and unlock billions of dollars of economic prosperity for the region and nation.  

Submitted to the Federal Government in January 2024, the annual advocacy publication guides strategic discussions with all levels of government and industry to ensure continued support for a growing range of industries. 

The Unlock the North advocacy publication represents unity amongst the North Queensland regional leaders with clearly defined project and policy asks from each level of government. The key priorities across the region include liveability and workforce attraction, housing, enabling infrastructure, health, defence and tourism.  

 Strategic Priorities needing Federal Government assistance:  

  • The Great Barrier Reef Education Precinct - $100 million investment to create a world leading educational hub displaying the unparalleled beauty of the Great Barrier Reef and showcasing the science, protection and conversation efforts of world leading Australian Institute of Marine Science, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and James Cook University.  
  • Housing – A minimum of 40% of the Federal Housing fund must be invested into regional areas such as Townsville North Queensland. Further the Re-insurance Pool must be made fit-for-purpose to ensure insurance premiums can be reduced.   
  • Workforce Shortages – Increase of zonal tax allowances for regions and provide investment into promotion of regional liveability for centers such as Townsville. Fast-tracking of regional visa’s for critical workers.    
  • Future Health and Prosperity - An extra 80 medical placements for the North Queensland region to secure more regional-based doctors and support training healthcare professionals. 
  • Support the governments “Made in Australia” policy by funding enabling Townsville’s Southern Industrial Corridor Infrastructure. Townsville is Australia's home of green manufacturing with an annual economic impact of $2.1 billion, 5,809 construction jobs, and 2,100 ongoing jobs. To unlock those opportunities in our city, we need the following enabling infrastructure: 
    • Townsville Port Expansion Stage 2- $300 million for Rockwall construction and dredging works.  
    • Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor - Commit funding to review the TEARC business case, detail design and progress the required development approvals and Fund TEARC to ensure this corridor comes online before future development. 
    • Flinders Highway Upgrade - The Flinders Highway is one of the most important national economic freight routes in the country. Carrying the goods and minerals to the Port of Townsville and supporting industries that contribute almost $6 billion to our nation’s GDP every year.   
    • Lansdown Eco-Industrial Precinct - Provide funding for the design and planning of a rail freight load out facility for future bulk commodity freight between Lansdown and the Port of Townsville. 
  • Activating Townsville North Queensland’s Hydrogen Industry - Concessions to support this enormous opportunity for the region. This will significantly reduce the cost of hydrogen and incentivize investment at a scale to reduce costs even further. 

Townsville Enterprise, CEO, Claudia Brumme-Smith said that all sides of government had been briefed and the region was counting on policy makers to see the deliveries of these projects for the benefit of all Australians. 

“While we understand, this year's federal budget will focus on cost-of-living measures, our region contributes over $22 billion to the Gross Regional Product (GRP) annually and North Queensland needs important infrastructure funding to ensure we can continue to deliver, and more importantly grow our contribution to the national economy,” said Ms. Brumme-Smith. 

“Townsville North Queensland is one of this nation’s most strategically important regions, and our contribution to Australia, should not be underestimated. We saw this through recent Defence commitments for the region including $1.2 Billion in funding towards Army and Airforce Capability.” 

“Townsville’s region leaders have identified a major infrastructure priority and are urging the Federal Government to allocate an additional $100 million to kickstart Phase One of the Townsville Waterfront's revitalisation, focusing on the Global Great Barrier Reef Centre of Excellence.” 

“North and Northwest Queensland is home to the largest critical minerals deposit and the best solar and wind resources in the country. For the private sector to invest in those important assets, which clearly meet the Albanese government policy agenda, we need to see Government commitment and investment into our rail, road and port network.” 

“As a region we are globally recognised as a leading green manufacturing and critical minerals hub, what we need now is funding commitments towards the Port Expansion Stage 2, the Eastern Access Rail Corridor and a critical upgrade to the Flinders Highway – these are lifeblood of trade in our region.”  

“The Albanese government has put its “Future Made in Australia” plan forward last month. North Queensland is primed and ready to unlock billions of dollars of manufacturing, but without the required enabling infrastructure this plan will not succeed.” 

"We cannot deny that there are some significant challenges this region needs to face, which is why our Unlock the North advocacy has a strong position and provides solutions to addressing housing, insurance costs and workforce attraction.” 

"North Queensland has all the ingredients right here - the capacity, capability, and tenacity to grow and support new and existing industries that the world is demanding.”

See the 'Unlock the North' document here:

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