09 May KAP FLAGS STEPPING STONES TO STATEHOOD
The complete decentralisation of State Government departments to cities like Townsville and Cairns, or a North Queensland Parliamentary Council that would allow NQ-based MPs only to vote on issues and projects in the region, have been floated today as “self-governance” options by Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) MPs.
The KAP MPs, in Cairns this week for the Queensland Parliament’s once-a-term regional sitting, said steps towards self-governance were reasonable as the region continues its quests towards statehood.
The first motion for the North’s separation was considered in the Queensland colonial parliament in 1897, and was denied.
Five parliamentary motions have been moved since for the people of the North to be given a voice on the issue through a referendum, but every motion has been blocked.
KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter said this week’s Regional Parliamentary sitting week was a golden opportunity to make clear to visiting southern MPs that the region was not to be taken advantage of or for granted.
Mr Katter said that Queensland was too big for one set of rules.
“There is a deep divide between the values of people in the North and the south of the State, and visiting here for one sitting and claiming to listen to people is not going to cut it,” he said.
“We think steps to self-governance should be taken so that instead of having policies rail-roaded over us because of our pure lack of numbers, whether in the House or in terms of the broader population, we can take more control of our future.
“It could be through a North Queensland Parliamentary Council or decentralisation of departments, – we’re not going to be prescriptive about the solution but we’re going to keep pushing for these alternative models so that people in the North genuinely feel represented.”
KAP Deputy Leader and Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said issues like crime, crocodiles and coal were important to North Queenslanders but all decision-making on these issues took place in the south-east.
“In North Queensland there is huge support for the creation of a separate state when you speak to people on the streets but when you take that conversation into the Queensland Parliament, you’re laughed down by the Government of the day and told that it’s a fanciful idea that will never happen,” he said.
“People in North Queensland want the chance for self-determination, they want a genuine say on the rules and laws govern them.
“What we are calling for today is a stepping stone to allow us to one day be able to create our own separate state – we want to be able to show that we’re mature enough to self-govern.”
KAP Hill MP Shane Knuth said Brisbane’s growing population meant that the south-east’s political representation was continually growing at the expense of rural and regional Queensland’s.
“One of the things that’s very frustrating is that every time we have an electoral redistribution, we see seats abolished from the regions and additional ones added to the south-east – how are the people of rural and regional and North Queensland meant to compete with that?”