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Federal Government responds to Northern and Central Queensland issues.



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M30/2001 15 February 2001

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RESPONDS TO NORTHERN AND CENTRAL QUEENSLAND ISSUES

The Federal Government today reinforced its commitment to central and northern Queensland in a formal response to issues raised at consultations held in the lead up to the Northern Australia Forum late last year.

Senator Ian Macdonald, Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government said that development of new technology and public infrastructures were identified as key challenges facing the area, and the Government has provided a direct response.

The aim of the Forum was to identify prospects for sustainable growth in the north well into the 21st century.  Local consultations were held before the Forum to establish the region’s priorities.

“The outcomes of those consultations were invaluable,” said the Minister.  “The Federal Government has now taken the process one step further by providing today’s comprehensive response.

“A priority for this region is telecommunications access and infrastructure.  Yesterday’s announcement of the successful tender to provide untimed local calls and cheaper connection to the Internet in rural and remote areas is a major step forward,” said Senator Macdonald.

“Just last week, we announced that Rockhampton would be one of nine locations for a national network of rural clinical schools.  This will bring additional resources such as libraries, teaching and research facilities, along with added benefits for health professionals already based in these areas who will benefit from enhanced clinical support, research capacity and continuing education opportunities.

“This Government’s $2.9 billion innovation package  - Backing Australia’s Ability - also boosts support for rural Australia through a range of initiatives such as the New Industries Development Programme.

“The $50 million of Federal Government funds provided to the CSIRO for commercialisation of Australian Magnesium process technology in partnership with the Australian Magnesium Corporation (AMC) will also directly benefit this region as AMC is proposing to develop a $1.2 billion magnesium facility at Stanwell, near Rockhampton.

“And there is the Roads to Recovery Programme, committing $43.8 million to improving roads throughout the region over the next four years,” said Senator Macdonald.

These initiatives are just a sample of the Federal Government’s commitment to northern and central

Queensland, and rural and regional Australia more broadly.

“Participants in the Northern Australia Forum believed that a strategic approach to development in the north should be developed and today’s report demonstrates that strong foundations are in place to make that a reality,” said Senator Macdonald.

Today’s report is the second in a series of Federal Government responses to issues emerging from local consultations in ten specific regions to be rolled out over the next four months.

The three Area Consultative Committees covering northern and central Queensland region will monitor progress and provide a focal point for the community on the Federal Government response to local issues.

Media Contact: Jackie Westcombe: (02) 6277 7060 / (0411) 250 869

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© Commonwealth of Australia 2000 Last updated:  Friday, 16 February 2001