We want EQUALITY for Central and Northern Queensland – equal representation, equal opportunities and financial equity.
Due to the disparate distribution of Queensland’s population and the absence of an Upper House, regional Queensland does not receive equal representation, equal opportunities or the financial equity it deserves, despite its significant contributions to the economy and abundant potential for growth.
The Australian Constitution allows for the creation of new states and the pathway to establish a 7th State is clear:
But to initiate change, we first need to advocate for the people of Central and Northern Queensland to have their say.
NQSA will launch a national campaign to inform and educate all Australians.
We will highlight the inequities, remind people of their fundamental right to be heard and reinforce the benefits of living in a Federation.
Our campaign will create a national movement that builds the public pressure required to compel the Australian Government to give the people of Central and Northern Queensland a voice and a choice in their future.
VOICE + CHOICE = CHANGE
The first – and most vital – step towards creating a 7th State is to determine public support for the proposal.
A Statistical Survey is one suitable model that allows the people in the five Federal Electorates of Leichardt, Kennedy, Herbert, Dawson and Capricornia to have their say.
Not a referendum, not a plebiscite, but a non-compulsory, non-binding Statistical Survey that allows our collective voices to be heard.
NOTE : This model was used to ascertain whether Australians supported same-sex marriage.
The introduction of a Private Members’ Bill or Private Senators’ Bill is an option, but the Minister responsible for the Census and Statistics Act may also choose to direct the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to administer a survey. Section 9 of the Census and Statistics Act provides these powers, but we need a national campaign to create the people’s movement that will force the Minister, and the Government, to take notice and act!
To gain a greater understanding of the events in history that led us to where we are now, the problems that we are facing and what “Equality” for Central and Northern Queensland means, please read on…
The Queensland Parliament:
Queensland is the only State in Australia with no Upper House in its Parliament to act as a check and balance on Government action. Queensland had two Houses until 1922. On the 5thMay 1917, a referendum was held on whether to abolish the upper house (the Legislative Council). The vote was lost by a 60:40 majority – i.e. 179,105 Queenslanders voted against the abolition of the Council and 116,196 voted for its removal. Despite this, in 1922 when the Theodore Labor Government gained control of both Houses, it voted to abolish it. With no check on manipulation of electoral laws, there were then only three changes of government from 1922 to 1989. In 1989, the Fitzgerald Inquiry exposed systems of government in complete decay. Despite the recommended changes by Tony Fitzgerald, when the Campbell Newman LNP government took office in 2012, with a majority 79 out of 89 seats, the north wore the brunt of cut, slash and retrench policies. The hiatus of the Newman government’s reign led Tony Fitzgerald to comment in 2015:
“With its single house of parliament, no bill of rights, and history of political malpractice, the state is extremely vulnerable to the misuse of power.” – Tony Fitzgerald SC, 29 Jan 2015
We want our own Parliament – designed by us, for us!
The Federal Parliament:
The first vote for Australia’s colonies to become one nation occurred in 1898. Queenslanders did not vote in this referendum! Why? Because North and Central Queensland wanted to become separate States. The vote in 1898 was nevertheless defeated in NSW. To rescue the federation model, the six colonial Premiers met in 1899 to make changes to the draft Constitution. At the initiative of the Queensland Premier, Sir James Dickson, an amendment was made to s.7 of the Constitution to allow Senators in Queensland to be elected on a regional basis. Today, s.7 paragraph 2 of the Constitution provides: “ .. until the Parliament of the Commonwealth otherwise provides, the Parliament of the State of Queensland, if that State be an Original State, may make laws dividing the State into divisions and determining the number of senators to be chosen for each division, and in the absence of such provision the State shall be one electorate. …”. In 1983, the Hawke Government passed legislation blocking the opportunity for s.7 of the Constitution to take effect. Today, from above the Tropic of Capricorn there are 7 members in the Federal Parliament representing around 980,000 people. Tasmania on the other hand, has around 541,000 people and 17 members in the Federal Parliament. If we become a new State this will change.
As a new State, we want the Senate representation we were promised in s.7 of the Constitution!
Are the Central and Northern Queensland regions treated equitably?
- State taxes like mining royalties are recovered disproportionately from regional areas.
- Many argue that the condition of northern infrastructure is less than in the southeast.
- Health-wise, statistics show that life expectancy and medical treatment waiting times are not the same.
- Central and northern regional Queenslanders are penalised on taxation indirectly e.g. insurance taxation. Essentially, we pay more taxes on higher premiums because of where we live, despite paying more to build to cyclonic standards in the first place.
What is earned in Central and Northern Queensland does not stay in the region!
How State Taxes and GST are distributed within the state is up to the Queensland Government, but Queensland has no Upper House!
If we became the 7th State, we would retain our mining royalties and stamp duty, receive our own allocation of GST, compete fairly for S. 96 grants with proper representation in the Senate and decide how and where our money is spent
Growth and Opportunity
Central and Northern Queensland becoming the 7th State is not just about equity, it is about growing the Federation and growing Australia.
Australia benefits from being a federation! In 2007-08, Professors Anne Twomey and Glen Withers discussed the benefits of federalism in Australia in their paper ‘Australia’s Federal Future: Delivering Growth and Prosperity’.
One of their key findings was that
“… Australia benefits by a little over 10 per cent by being a federation. This is the economic pay-off from political decentralisation. However, the fiscal position within our federation could be improved further and this and the associated practices and behaviours could provide a future 6.75–9.72 per cent further benefit over the present”
NOTE : Two of the strongest economies in the world, the United States of America and Germany, are multi-state federations!
Decentralisation will create more jobs (not more government) in Central and Northern Queensland and reduce costly wastage in congested cities, opening up our nation. A 7th State is an opportunity to grow our agricultural, manufacturing and resources sectors and become a major food resource and exporter for a growing world population.
Locally Relevant Decision Making
At present, only 5% of Australia’s major dams are above the Tropic of Capricorn despite this area representing 40% of Australia’s land mass and receiving 60% of its rainfall.
The primary purpose of a creating a 7th State in the North is that decisions will be made locally – as close to the people they affect as possible!
Our region will be able to make conditions more attractive to people, industries and investment. Key decisions on issues like power, hydrogen and renewable energy, water, transport, roads and sustainability will be made as an equal partner in the Federation.
Many of the regional areas of Queensland have a higher proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons than the rest of Queensland and Australia. We need focused representation to meet the distinctive needs of our region’s unique demographics.
- Townsville – Mackay IR (26,478 persons or 4.1% of the National population of First Nations people)
- Cairns – Atherton IR (24,465 persons or 3.8% of the National population of First Nations people)
- Torres Strait IR has the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons (81.8%) of all IRs in Australia, while Cape York had the seventh-highest proportion (55.8%)
- The Lower Gulf suffers with the poorest health outcomes in Queensland, with life expectancy in some communities as low as 49 years and diseases that only thrive in poverty plaguing their people.
In conclusion… the North and South are not equal!
We in Central and Northern Queensland are not equal –
- Money that is earned in our region does not stay in our region!
- Mining royalties are collected disproportionately from our region.
- We pay nearly twice the price for our home insurances.
- Our roads are not adequate, nor are they equal to those in the South.
- Hospital waiting times, life expectancy and health outcomes are lower in our region compared to the South-East.
- Access to geriatric care and specialised healthcare is restricted.
- Laws do not apply equally – e.g. Shark nets in the South East are used to protect ocean users. Crocodiles in the north are not managed!
- Industries that are the backbone of our region, the state and the nation are over regulated by politicians and bureaucrats from the South-East while our emerging industries do not receive adequate support.
- We don’t enjoy the benefits of competition in the energy sector, forcing us to pay more to those who monopolise the market.
- Kids in the north do not have the same opportunities as those in the south and are forced to leave the region or miss out altogether.
- Our sporting team are disadvantaged because of where they live, yet the Cowboys are proof that given the opportunity, our sports people are as good as any in the nation.
We want to be equal partners in the Federation and we want to grow the Federation!