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Monday, 4 June 2001
Page: 27181

Mr LINDSAY (5:52 PM) — This is the grievance debate and boy, have I got a grievance! I have a grievance along with some 500,000 other Queenslanders, principally in North Queensland. My grievance relates to the shabby treatment we are receiving from the state government of Queensland. North Queenslanders are so concerned at this point about the way that the south-east of the state is being looked after and the north is being forgotten that it could well be time to actively consider the possibility of a new state for North Queensland. That is a big ask, but the frustration that we have as North Queenslanders in relation to the non-delivery of essential services and projects to the north may bring on the fight which might lie ahead. In my own region, as an example, there are always major projects that are needed—standout projects. On each one of the four major projects in the region, the state government has said no to North Queensland. That is not acceptable. The state government lets the north down continually. Let me outline the projects and you will see the importance to the north and you will see why our area of the state is angry that the state government is not supporting North Queensland.

Let us look at the port access road. The proposed port access road for the port of Townsville has been on the agenda for some time now. It was principally the foresight of the former chairman of the Townsville Port Authority, David Carmichael, who saw that developing a new port access road on the eastern bank of Ross River would open up the port and bring new business and new industry to the Stuart area. It was a case of what came first, the industry or the port access road. It was David Carmichael's vision that you were proactive, you looked ahead and built something, and that brought prosperity to the region. Everybody agreed with David Carmichael, except the state government, which put in an environmental impact study on the project. That was highly successful—it slowed everything down by four years. It took four years to do an environmental impact assessment. It was ridiculous. Everybody knew what was happening: the state government did not want this project to go ahead. Now they have put another three-year delay on the project. Meanwhile, the Townsville port, the people of Townsville and the residents of Railway Estate, South Townsville and Oonoonba all wait. The city does not progress in the manner that it could with the new access road. It is a crying shame. That port access road should proceed immediately. It should be a road of national importance. The Commonwealth government stands ready, if the state government declares it tomorrow as a road of national importance, to contribute 50 per cent to the capital cost of the project. We stand ready now, but the state government sits on its hands and says, `No, we will continue to delay.'

Look at the major tourism project in the Cromaty wetlands. That has been a vision of a person you would know, Madam Deputy Speaker Kelly—Mark Stoneman. That project would develop a tourism attraction of international significance, another Kakadu National Park, in Queensland. The Commonwealth stands ready to provide $1.7 million as its share from the Natural Heritage Trust, which has been expanded and extended in the recent Commonwealth budget. But what is the state government's position? They are required to contribute $800,000 and the answer is no. The answer is no to the most significant new tourism development that the north has seen.

In relation to the Douglas arterial road, many people in Townsville and Thuringowa will know of the importance of this particular road. It is a future national highway. It will not be a national highway for 10 years, but the Commonwealth has the vision that, if we can build that road now, it would help many people in the city. By putting a bridge across Ross River, it will cut off seven kilometres for people from the upper Ross in access to the new general hospital being built at James Cook University. It will fix the traffic snarls at the Nathan Street intersection which are developing as that intersection becomes overloaded. It will have a cost-benefit ratio of—listen to this—13. That is unheard of. Governments build roads when they have a cost-benefit ratio of one; this has a cost-benefit ratio of 13. The Commonwealth stands ready, firstly, to contribute half of the capital cost immediately—some $20.3 million—and then to pay back to the state another $13 million when that road becomes part of the national highway. It is a terrific deal for the state of Queensland, the government of Queensland and the people of Townsville and Thuringowa, but the state government says no. It is extraordinarily frustrating when we have one of the most important road projects in the north stalled by the state government.

Another major project is baseload power for the north. This does not directly touch the electors of Herbert, Leichhardt, Dawson or Kennedy, but on the other hand it does. The government promised us baseload power in the north by the year 2003. They have now put it out to the year 2005, and that is not acceptable. We need cheap, reliable, on the ground power in North Queensland now. The list goes on. At the ocean terminal for the port of Townsville, we are having American ships which bring $1 million a day to the city turned away from the port because we do not have the wharfage facilities. We are having tourist ships turned away from the port. And of course the state government contributed to that by last year taking all of the cash out of the Townsville Port Authority. They are cash strapped. They cannot provide the facilities in their own port. Where did the state government take it? They took it to Brisbane, and the north once again misses out.

There were no guarantees for our rail workers. That is something we are very concerned about. And where is the promised tilt train to North Queensland? There was a big fanfare on that, but it did not happen. In health, where is the support for the acute spinal care and the back pain clinic at the new general hospital? Nothing. In education, where is the Douglas state school that was promised? Where is the Oonoonba state school that was promised in the last election campaign? On the backburner.

It is the towns and cities of the state that produce the wealth of Queensland. It is not the metropolis that now extends from perhaps Noosa to the border. It is the towns and cities out in the regions that produce the wealth, and we deserve our fair share to come back to the regions. But, no, if the state government wants $9 million urgently to further a blow-out in the costs of a pedestrian bridge across the Brisbane River, it comes immediately. If they want $280 million for a football stadium at Lang Park, where it should not be built, it comes immediately. But, when the north wants major development projects that would further enhance the wealth of the state, the answer is no. The Premier plays politics and he is certainly not meeting his responsibilities to North Queensland.

In my region we now have four state members and we are worse off for it. I believe that the solution to that is coming to an inevitable conclusion. I believe that people in the north will say, `If we can't get our fair share from Brisbane, let's have our own state.' I conclude where I began: I believe it is now time for North Queenslanders to actively consider the new state movement so that we can get our rightful share for the projects that we need.