North Queensland still the state’s cash cow

The Queensland Government’s budget is being saved by another mining boom but Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) has warned the benefits will be temporary unless Labor begins to invest in the infrastructure and communities that are driving mining royalties.

State KAP Leader Robbie Katter said the Labor must put jobs first by ensuring Queensland remained an attractive destination for mining and minerals processing investment.

“Mining drives about 316,000 jobs in Queensland and there is potential for a lot more with the right policy approach,” he said.

“Unfortunately the Government seems to want to drive mining and mineral processing investment away from Queensland with some of the highest energy costs in the world and anti-development policies driven by the extreme green

Mr Katter said the “hidden costs” in state’s new mining legislation coupled with chronic underinvestment in regional Queensland meant the future of the resource sector and the jobs it supports was greatly compromised.

According to KAP estimates, around $2.65 billion in capacity enhancing infrastructure was invested in 2016-17 and only $147 million (less than six per cent) was allocated to projects in North Queensland and outback Queensland.

These locations include the major mining areas in the state such as the North West Minerals province and the Bowen Basin.

Mr Katter said the south-east was again likely to be the big winner from new figures released by the Queensland Resources Council showing the state would reap billions of dollars from a new regional mining boom.

The sector’s growth in 2017, buoyed by a 69 per cent contribution from coal mines, added $4.3 billion dollars to the State Government’s coffers and more importantly, the jobs of around 316,000 Queenslanders are supported by the mining

He said the Palaszczuk Government had historically spent mining royalty monies in the south-east like a “drunken sailor”, while largely ignoring the needs of the North.

“The jobs generated from mining, both coal and minerals, are at risk from the Government’s apparent ideological hypocrisy,” he said.

“On the one hand Labor appears to be doing everything it can to destroy investment in mining, while pork barrelling seats like South Brisbane with the very royalties mining produces.

“If the government wants Queenslanders to continue to benefit from the mining boom they must reinvest a greater portion of the windfall in to the regions that produce that windfall.”

Mr Katter said improving regulatory arrangements around energy and transport to reduce prices and increasing regional employment and liveability were crucial to ensuring the long-term viability of the sector that the south-east so heavily relied upon.

He said the multi-billion dollar Cross River Rail project and a new entertainment precinct being mooted for Roma Street were only a few examples of a myriad of projects funded in the main by mining royalties generated in regional North Queensland.

“When the North puts up its hand to boost the tourism sector in the wake of recent shark attacks in the North, we are told there is no money in the bin,” he said.

“There is no money in the North Queensland bin, but it is overflowing in Jackie Trad’s seat to buy off the Greens and in other seats in south-east Queensland.

“Without policy changes to improve employment, liability and investment opportunities in the North West, it is likely we will no longer be able to cough up as Brisbane’s cash cow.”

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