Please click below to read some of my speeches in the Queensland Parliament.
Please click below to read some of my speeches in the Queensland Parliament.
MEMBER: Mr STEWART
Mr STEWART (Townsville—ALP) (9.32 pm): It gives me great pleasure to rise tonight to support the Palaszczuk government's budget. This is a government that committed during the election campaign to be a government of Queensland and ensure that regional areas were looked after and not forgotten, and that is exactly what this government is doing—looking after regional Queensland. The Townsville region will be a significant winner under the Palaszczuk government's first budget as the city positions itself as a hub of Northern Australia. The budget includes $804.6 million for the Townsville Hospital and Health Service, $43.3 million over the next four years for maintenance in Townsville schools and $21.2 million for disaster relief in 2015-16 in partnership with the Australian government. But wait, there is more. The infrastructure improvement budget looks outstanding for Townsville with $542.9 million budgeted for infrastructure improvements in 2015-16 including $262 million for transport, $51.3 million for health, $60.3 million for energy and water and $35.6 million for education and training, which includes $10 million for the purchase of new land for a future school in the north-west area of the city. But more specifically the big-ticket items for the Townsville electorate include $18 million to construct a renewable energy ready power station on Palm Island and $5 million to commence work on the new Townsville Stadium in South Townsville. This funding will go towards the business case, a quantity surveyor to determine project costs and a programmer. There is $10.2 million to commence the redevelopment of the berth 4 facility at the port of Townsville, $9.1 million towards the commencement of the construction of an employment related accommodation program for NRL House and $2 million to commence works on a crisis shelter in Townsville at a cost of $4 million in direct response to the Not now, not ever report by Quentin Bryce.
Mrs Frecklington interjected.
Mr STEWART: It is happening in Townsville, member for Nanango. It is happening in Townsville. Why is the Palaszczuk government investing so heavily in Townsville? I will tell members this: it is not for my good looks, that is for sure. It is not because we were forgotten about under the years of the former government either and it is not because Townsville suffered from the `no public servant need fear me' saga either. It is because the Palaszczuk government gets it. It gets it. It is the Palaszczuk government that appointed the Minister Assisting the Premier for North Queensland as the only regional minister to do so. In those five months, the Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland has achieved the following for North Queensland. She has reopened the office of the Premier and cabinet which was closed by the former government. It just goes to show how much the Newman government considered and valued the north. It closed that office. But wait, there is more. What else has she done? She ensured the first community cabinet was also held in Townsville to listen to that community—and there is more. She has worked with the Minister for Tourism to secure the DestinationQ conference in Townsville later this year. But wait—
Opposition members interjected.
Mr STEWART: I know those opposite are loving every minute of it. There is more, too! The Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland also secured a new primary school and secondary school for north-west Townsville—something we heard the member for Hinchinbrook saying that he had been working on since 2011. This minister could do it in five months. Five months it took this minister to do it. The Premier selected the member for Mundingburra to be the Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland because she is the best person for the job. She has proven this by achieving more than what the member for Hinchinbrook could achieve with those schools over those five years.
The Palaszczuk government gets it. For those in the opposition who still do not quite understand, I will explain it in a little bit more detail. With the recent release of the federal government's white paper on Northern Australia, the time is right to grow the north to ensure that it is able to accommodate the exponential growth. In the recent State of the tropics report, it highlights that the tropics emerges as a critical global region with a unique set of development challenges and opportunities. The tropics covers only 40 per cent of the world's surface area but hosts approximately 80 per cent of its terrestrial 017 biodiversity and more than 95 per cent of its mangrove and coral reef based biodiversity. The tropical world's economy is growing 20 per cent faster than the rest of the world and many tropical nations are important contributors to world trade, politics and innovation. The tropics is home to 40 per cent of the world's population and 55 per cent of the world's children under the age of five. By 2050, some 50 per cent of the world's population and close to 60 per cent of the world's children are expected to reside in the tropics. This is why the Palaszczuk government gets it. The Premier understands where we are heading.
Advances in technology are providing a platform for expanding business opportunities, enhancing prospects to reduce poverty and improving education and health outcomes. Incomes are higher, infrastructure is more accessible and life expectancy is the highest it has ever been. The federal government recently released its much anticipated white paper on developing Northern Australia. The opening paragraph states—
The north has untapped promise, abundant resources and talented people. It is also Australia's closest connection with our key trading markets and the global scale changes occurring in Asia.
Northern Australia, as I said, encompasses 40 per cent of Australia's land mass and has approximately one million people living in that same area. The white paper cites how the federal government sees the way forward in developing trade and business opportunities for Northern Australia. Page 60 of that paper states—
… the Government can help protect people and industries from increased biosecurity and health threats as more people and goods navigate international borders. This means bringing together research bodies, institutions and individuals in the north and across Australia, and partnering with regional countries to develop new technologies and greater capacity to protect northern investment. This will also generate new commercial and employment opportunities in tropical agriculture and health sectors, positioning the north as a global leader.
While the Federal Government sees Northern Australia as Darwin, the Palaszczuk government sees an opportunity and a necessity to establish Townsville as the hub of northern Australia. The opportunity is to harness the northern region of the state by creating synergy between Mackay and Cairns and west to Mount Isa. The idea of northern cities in competition with one another is 20th century thinking. This region has 21st century eyes and looks at ways that we can work together to create, develop, enhance, promote and maximise opportunities to meet the needs of a rapidly changing global network of trade, education, resources and knowledge.
Mr Speaker, I seek leave to incorporate the remainder of my speech. It has been approved.
Mr Speaker, this is why the Palaszczuk government is investing in Townsville. But it comes with its challenges.
The greater Townsville area has a total population of approximately 237,000 which is expected to reach 362,000 by 2036. Around 30,000 will live in the inner CBD. The top 5 industries by numbers of workers in the area are:
Health care and social assistance at 16.6%
Retail trade at 11.6%
Accommodation and food services at 9.2% which I might add were in very high demand over the week-end due to the very successful V8 Supercars in Townsville
Construction at 9%, and
Education and training at 8.3%
As you can see Mr Speaker, the Townsville region is a very diverse area indeed. In fact:
Our agricultural production consisting largely of sugar and beef cattle is worth around $657 million
In the 12 months ending 31 March this year, 1,626 residential buildings were approved for construction
3,841 residential dwellings were sold in the last calendar year, and
16,680 businesses were in operation in the 2013-14 financial year