What do our representatives say?
In 1896, the Queensland Labor member for Rockhampton, William Kidston, moved a motion for a referendum for the separation of northern and central colonies.
On 28 July 1910, the Labor Member for Barcoo, T.J. Ryan, introduced into the Legislative Assembly of the Queensland Parliament a motion for the separation of Northern and Central Queensland States.
On 25 November 1910, the Honourable W.G. Higgs, Federal Labor Member for the seat of Capricornia, moved the following motion in the Federal House of Representatives:
That this House is prepared, in accordance with Chapter VI of the Commonwealth Constitution, to form two new States out of the Territory known as Northern and Central Queensland.
On 6 July 1922, in the Queensland Legislative Assembly, the Labor Member for Rockhampton petitioned for the State of QLD to be split.
Nothing new here!
In 1948, Tommy Aikens, the Independent member for Mundingburra (1944-1977), complained that "…in North Queensland working-class families of long standing are preparing to leave the North and its long slack period unemployment, and migrate to Brisbane with its near-permanence of employment and abundant and varied recreation during the long week-ends" (Sydney Morning Herald, 13 Mar 2016).
ROB PYNE – Member for Cairns
Former Labor MP, and now Independent State Member for Cairns, Rob Pyne has complained that, "Far north Queensland has been the victim of historic neglect over recent years...We have double digit unemployment and youth unemployment of over 20 percent, and we are badly in need of state funding for important infrastructure, like our local schools."
Source: Sydney Morning Herald 'Rob Pyne's resignation shows North Queensland is a state of mind' [online]
13 Mar 2016
MATTHEW CANAVAN – Senator
Liberal National Party (LNP) Senator Matthew Canavan has called for the creation of a new state in Queensland's north.
The former chief of staff to Barnaby Joyce says he moved to Rockhampton to give a greater voice to central Queensland.
He said: “There are only three senators [now only two] based north of the Tropic of Capricorn and splitting Queensland would give regional people more representation.
That's three people for 800,000 to one million people depending where you draw the boundary," Senator Canavan said.
"Tasmania has 12 senators for 500,000 people - I don't think that's fair.
I think we need to create states so we get a better balance in our Senate and north Queensland doesn't get dictated to by Tasmania."
Senator Canavan says there are provisions in the constitution to create more states.
"I think it is a concern that state governments have become bloated and removed from their local communities," he said.
"A lot of people like to talk about abolishing the states. I don't think that will ever happen.
But we can create more of them and that can get government back to the people and be leaner and meaner and more efficient."
In an interview with the Courier Mail, Senator Canavan said, “I personally support new states being created as a way of driving the development of our country and especially of Queensland. …Queensland is a big state to be ruled from just one corner in Brisbane."
Source: ABC News 'Rookie LNP Senator Matthew Canavan calls for Queensland split' [online]
Updated 2nd Jul 2014, 10:10AM
BOB KATTER – Member for Kennedy
"Whilst we have great respect for the Treasurer and the Treasury, what they have said is an argument for the State of North Queensland, not an argument against it. This is a triumph of the obvious. The Treasury data from the last census shows the gross regional product of tropical Queensland was about $75 billion – compared to $130 billion in Brisbane. The state total was $270 billion.
It begs the question – why does the south have $130 billion and we only have $75 billion?
We’ve got no dams……
There are only five House of Representative seats in North Queensland and minimal senators which is a huge disparity in the value of the North Queensland vote compared to other jurisdictions. North Queensland is a loser from a voter perspective and a net loser in public investment. There are a half a million people in NQ, with one resident Senator.
Queensland’s income comes almost solely from the four C’s: coal, cane, cattle and copper -- all almost exclusively come from North Queensland. And the tourism between Mackay and Cairns is bigger than the Gold Coast. The base of the state’s economy comes from the north.”
Source: KAP News 'Treasury calculations make an argument for the state of North Queensland, not against it' [online]
1 Apr 2016
GEORGE CHRISTENSON – Member for Dawson
“The idea of a separate state for North Queensland should be determined by a referendum of North Queenslanders only”, Member for Dawson George Christensen says.
"This issue has been talked about for too long and what we really need now is some action.
The people of the north deserve a fair hearing on this, and a group of influential state, federal and local government leaders would be well placed to push for a referendum on the formation of a new state of North Queensland.
Such a referendum should only be open for North Queenslanders to vote in." Mr Christensen said this was an issue he had advocated for since he was first elected, and he believed the top half of the state had all the necessary attributes to be a ‘super state’.
"Right now we're being told what we can and can't do here by a government that is located 1 000 km plus from where we live, and it's a government that's beholden to capital city interests," he said.
"And in most cases those capital city interests are not aligned with our interests at all.
We have the resources, we have the agricultural footprint, and we've got some of the best tourism spots in the country.
Why couldn't we go it alone and be the best performing state in the nation?”
Source: The Chronicle 'Should North Queensland be its own state?' [online]
Updated 30th Mar 2016, 6:13AM
CREATING A NEW NORTH QUEENSLAND STATE
Chapter VI of the Australian Constitution sets out the conditions for new states.
Section 124 of the Constitution provides:
Formation of new States.
124. A new State may be formed by separation of territory from a State, but only with the consent of the Parliament thereof, and a new State may be formed by the union of two or more States or parts of States, but only with the consent of the Parliaments of the States affected.
If the Queensland Parliament passed an Act to separate North Queensland as a separate state, the Commonwealth would then have a role under s.121 to establish the new state.
How could it happen?
The history of petitions for North Queenslanders to be in charge of their own destiny extends back to before federation. Every petition in the Queensland parliament has been defeated by outright refusal by those who benefit from the status quo. So how do we change that?
S.124 of the Constitution says that it has to be the existing Parliament that separates the area to be the new State. The motion in 2016 moved by the Member for Mt Isa, Robbie Katter, to progress towards separation was defeated by people sitting in George Street, Brisbane.
We deserve the right to make the decision that affects us – i.e. a referendum of the people of the North. To get that referendum we need people elected to Parliament to give us the balance of power to force the issue.
Has a referendum happened before in any other state? Yes, it has! In 1967, a referendum was held for the state of New England in NSW. We in the North could have a referendum in the same manner as was held there.
Why a new state of North Queensland?
Because we can make the decisions that affect us!
QLD is a State covering 1,852,642 square kilometres. In the current State Parliament, just 28 of 89 seats are held outside the southeast corner. The number of senators in the North Queensland area is just two. With a new state, we will get our say in the Federal Parliament with senators that were promised to us in 1898, and are supported by s.7 of the Constitution.
Money that is earned here will stay here.
Our kids will get opportunities to represent themselves on the national stage – in their careers and in their sport (netball, soccer, hockey, cricket, etc).
Where would the borders be?
Once it is decided that a referendum would be held, then like in NSW in 1967, an independent Commission would examine the area suitable for a new state (the Nicholas Commission in NSW found seven criteria for determining suitability for a new State).
Where would the capital be?
That is for the people to decide. Once it is decided that a new state is to be formed by referendum, a separate set of questions will be formulated for the people to decide – i.e. the kind of government we want, where the capital would be, etc.
Isn’t this just more government?
There are two levels of government in Australia – Federal Government, and State Government. Local Councils are part of the State Government. The Creation of a new state is an opportunity for the people to decide where the balance should be between State Government and Local administration. A new state is an opportunity for fewer, and more efficient, members of government.
What would happen to the State of Origin?
Once the new state is formed, there would be Queensland and North Queensland. The eligibility test for State or Origin would mean that there would be no change to the QLD team for at least the first 20 years of existence of the new NQ State. Then, North Queensland would have its own team to beat both the other sides!
Would it weaken or strengthen Australia as a nation?
Our strength as a nation comes from our federal structure – i.e. from the number of states competing against each other. We believe in competitive federalism, and we want our chance to compete. Two of the strongest economies in the world, the United States and Germany, are multi-state federations. A new state of North Queensland will strengthen us as a nation.
Townsville Bulletin - Story by Kylie Stockdale
Motions for Secession
In 2010, the North Queensland Local Government Association voted 98-2 to press once more for separate statehood.
QLD Parliament, 15 September 2016
North Queensland, Secession Mr KATTER (Mount Isa—KAP) (6.07 pm): I move--
“That this House supports, in accordance with section 124 of the Commonwealth Constitution, the separation of Queensland into two states, and that the boundary of the two states is to be as recommended by an independent body, such as the current Queensland Redistribution Commission.”
The vote taken on the motion was thus: 42 Labor MPs voted against the motion. Only 28 LNP members cast a vote. 14 abstained.
Independent Cook MP Billy Gordon also abstained.
As Brisbane’s population grew, a long-standing suspicion grew up: that the interests of the capital were being prioritised, and that the northerners were contributing more than they were receiving. This resentment still boils over from time to time. In 2010, when the NQLGA voted 98-2 in favour of pressing for a separate state, Bob Katter welcomed the news, saying northerners had had “a gutful of the blood-sucking establishment of the south”, who had “economically massacred” the region under a “tyranny of the majority” (KAP News, 22 Sept 2016).