Unity in the regions shows refusal to be silenced on demands
THE people spoke on the weekend and there's no plan to stop with a message being sent to both state and federal governments that a major shake-up is needed in the way regional areas are treated.
A state-wide campaign is being launched on Friday in Rockhampton with a Day of Action to launch a parliamentary petition and send a message that regional areas are sick of being taken for granted.
Rockhampton Region mayor Margaret Strelow yesterday hosted 37 business, civic and political leaders at City Hall to streamline their message.
She has called on a clear policy agenda from the Queensland Government that would see jobs driven to the regions.
She said she was "somewhat disappointed" with comments made by (Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke) that Labor needed to get clearer communication about Adani.
"I think we heard loud and clear. Their actions were deafening," Cr Strelow said.
"What we need now is for Adani to be given the proper treatment and allowed to proceed so those jobs can flow and so as a community we can start to build a long term future.
"We are sending a message that we want to see the Galilee Basin open and that we want to see Adani given a fair go instead of what we've seen."
State and federal representatives, councillors and members of the business community were invited to yesterday's meeting.
Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry, State Member for Mirani, Stephen Andrew and Senator Matt Canavan attended but Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke and Keppel MP Brittany Lauga did not.
Mrs Lauga said she only found out about the meeting the previous day, by which time her diary was full.
She did not commit to or rule out attending Friday's Day for Action saying she had requested more information.
"I need more clarity over what they are calling for, otherwise I'd be showing up to something I don't have a considered position on," she said.
Mirani MP, Mr Andrew said it was great the mayor had stood up for the community and that more regulation was making it harder to operate in Queensland.
He said he was surprised Mr O'Rourke and Mrs Lauga didn't attend the meeting.
"They do have their hearts in Central Queensland," he said.
"Maybe it has something to do with the party, but it's a shame.
"These people in this area supported Barry and Brittany. You would expect the same back."
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane also attended and said farming, resources and tourism were the major drivers of jobs in regional Queensland.
"What we saw on the weekend was those people who live outside Brisbane say they won't be told by southerners what to do," he said.
"To see the mayor and Rockhampton Regional Council stand up and say we want a fair go is what it's all about.
"The resources industry employs over 300,000 Queenslanders and we want to see government's remove the impediments.
"We want to see a government that supports this industry."
Mr Macfarlane said Central Queenslanders cared as much about the environment and the future as any other Australians.
"We all want to see our emissions lower, but we want to see it done in such a way that people in regional Queensland aren't losing their jobs," he said.
"That it's all of us working together as we go to a more sustainable future with lower emissions.
"That job opportunities in regional Queensland aren't lost at the expense of some sort of ideology that isn't taken up by the rest of the world.
"Let's be clear about the Adani approvals.
"They have the approval of the two best scientific organisations in Australia, world-renowned organisations in GeoScience Australia and CSIRO, on the water plan.
"No-one else in Queensland has that kind of expertise, so what's the hold-up?
"Secondly in terms of the black-throated finch, one mine now operating and one mine approved last week used exactly the same BTFMP as Adani put in.
"Those mines got the tick, Adani is still waiting."
Cr Strelow said nothing needed for the future couldn't be solved by additional population.
"We know there's great money coming out of regional communities and we want to see that (money) providing jobs and a long-term future for regional Queensland," she said.
"A healthy state needs a healthy regional population and we need population growth.
"We often see it written that regions have been 'left behind', as if we have failed to do something or not embraced opportunities available to us. In fact, the opposite is true.
"We haven't been left behind, but simply held back.
"Chronic underinvestment in infrastructure, education, skills and jobs continues, exacerbated by a lack of political will from other levels of government to change things.
"We want bold policy decisions to actively support regional growth.
"This campaign is about drawing a line in the sand and sending a clear message that the status quo will no longer be accepted."
A second event is being planned by regional mayors and business enterprise groups to be held in Brisbane on Queensland Day on June 6.
Day of Action on Friday will launch a parliamentary petition, host a convoy through the city, and hold a special lunchtime event in the Rockhampton Riverside precinct.
"The regions mean business and we won't be silenced in our demands for a fair go. It is time, once and for all, to stop taking us for granted," Cr Strelow said.