On 4 December 2015, the leader of the Federal Opposition, Bill Shorten announced the establishment of the Central and North Queensland Taskforce. The role of the Central and North Queensland Taskforce is to develop a clear and coherent strategy that will grow skilled and well-paid jobs in a knowledge-based economy, and enable the sustainable development of our special part of Queensland into the future.
Central and North Queensland has many opportunities but also faces specific challenges. Despite the current Federal Government’s grand announcements for Northern Australia, they have failed to address many of the social infrastructure needs of regional towns and cities right across Central and North Queensland.
Indigenous Australians continue to face higher levels of disadvantage, particularly those people living in rural and remote communities where economic opportunities are limited and living standards are often significantly lower than for those living in regional towns and cities.
Our communities generally have seen the costs of living increase, child care and health costs up and higher insurance premiums. Recent job losses in the mining sector, public sector workforce cuts and a continued youth unemployment crisis right across regional Queensland are yet to be adequately addressed by the Federal Government.
That is why Federal Labor wants as many people and organisations as possible to be part of the Central and North Queensland Taskforce consultation and help us develop a realistic and robust plan to make it easier for everyone to live, work and do business in regional parts of Queensland.
The Central and North Queensland Taskforce will focus on four key areas:
- Strong and healthy communities – building on investments in quality government and community services including early childhood and aged care, services which support vulnerable and disadvantaged people and address Indigenous disadvantage, as well as affordable and accessible health care services which are equitably distributed across the region.
- Education and industry skills – increasing secondary education attainment rates across the region and expanding the skills base through quality industry training, TAFE and tertiary education to ensure the next generation have the skills to drive the new knowledge-based economy, with a focus on science, mathematics, engineering and higher-order technical skills to help build a smart and mobile workforce.
- Economic development and jobs – growing key regional industries including more targeted investments in regional tourism, positioning ourselves as a tropical sports hub for high performance training, advancing defence and aviation industries, identifying Indigenous business opportunities, encouraging high-value agriculture and boutique food production, sustainable natural resource management and promoting renewable energy projects.
- Renewable energy – identify opportunities to take advantage of the fact that Central and North Queensland is blessed with some of the greatest renewable energy assets in the world.
- Cost of Living – with many families struggling to afford the essentials and Malcolm Turnbull’s plans to slug families with an increased GST identify ways to reduce the cost of living.
We are inviting you to address one, some or all of these areas in your submission to the Taskforce. We want your brightest ideas on how you believe Governments – at a Local, State and Federal level – can best address these issues. Your submissions can be a few sentences or a few pages.
This is our opportunity to build on our regional competitiveness by identifying durable and sustainable policy solutions which enhance the traditional strengths of our people, our natural assets and our physical infrastructure.
Submissions close 31 January 2016.
If you have any questions or would like to make a submission to the Taskforce, please email taskforce chair Senator Jan McLucas Senator.McLucas@aph.gov.au or phone 1300 301 959.