by Amber Hooker
CENTRAL Queensland has been celebrated as the "big winner" at the LNP State Convention over the weekend.
LNP candidate for Rockhampton Douglas Rodgers successfully carried a resolution which called on an elected LNP Government to decentralise the Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) and bring it into regional Queensland.
With more than 2300 full-time or equivalent staff, Mr Rodgers said the benefits of luring the Brisbane-based department to one or a number of regional centres would be two-fold; jobs and more effective operations.
WATCH | LNP move resolution to decentralise the DNRM
"On one side you have the direct jobs for a city like Rockhampton where there'll be more employment opportunities for professionals... and for people to progress within the bureaucracy without having to go to Brisbane, without having to leave Central Queensland where they have grown up and made their families," he said.
"On the other side is we know when organisations that have broad operations like the DNRM, or like a mining company, when they have a decentralised operation they are far more efficient and they do a better job, because the people that are making the decisions are where the decisions need to be made."
Mr Rogers' initial resolution asked the DNRM be moved to "Central Queensland", but he explained amending this to "regional Queensland" offered more opportunity without diminishing Rockhampton's chances of "taking a positive step from this resolution".
"The Federal Government is leading the way on this, taking government agencies and departments away from the government centres as they are at the moment," he said.
"Whether it's Canberra, or Brisbane at a state level, and getting them out to the regional centres where the actual action is they are administering.
"It's pretty clear to most people that Rockhampton is a great place for something like the Department of Mines and Natural Resources to be located.
"Within 500km of Rockhampton you've got 50 coal mines, and 25,000 mining workers and the decisions made by DNRM directly affects the economy and the families of Central Queensland and those decisions should be made closer to the coal face."
Mundingburra candidate Matt Derlagen joined Mr Rodgers' in his pitch to an estimated 500 delegates and observers, and hoped the DNRM would become the first of many Queensland Government agencies to decentralise.
Mr Rodgers clarified this wasn't an election promise, but a party policy resolution, not dependant on his success in the State election.
"This is the idea behind where we as a party, or a group of delegates, want to go, and it's up to Tim Nicholls and the rest of the team to work out what that actually looks like politically," he said.
The Federal Government launched their decentralisation push in April this year, and require all ministers to justify whether agencies within their portfolio should remain in capital cities and report to Cabinet by August.
Mr Rodgers said the relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to Armidale in northern New South Wales, and the Grains Research Agency to Toowoomba were testament to the success of decentralisation.
Senator Matthew Canavan, the Minister for for Resources and Nothern Australia, congratulated Mr Rodgers and Mr Derlagen on the resolution which he said would bring more jobs to North Queensland.
Mr Rodgers also moved a motion which called on immediate action to address the "crippling electricity prices", which was carried with resounding backing.
He claimed while Queensland often had the lowest wholesale stock price, we were paying some of the highest retail and service costs, and suggested one way to combat this would be to develop extra production of electricity in Central and Northern Queensland.
"And to do that using a new coal fired power station, that's one popular method," he said.
Mr Rodgers said he would back a new coal fired power station if it were necessary, but said there was merit in a number of options such as replacing the Gladstone power station, building a new one in Townsville or improving the Stanwell stations near Rockhampton.
"But it's something you need to look at in detail," he said.