State Government inaction stokes a Great Divide
IT seems the Queensland Government still hasn't got the message from the federal election. It wasn't just about mining jobs in regional Queensland; it was about getting on with the job in so many other ways for the regions, writes David Littleproud
This was rammed home further in last week's state Budget.
The State Government increased its tax on the resource sector by 25 per cent to fund $50 billion worth of infrastructure.
But the notion that most of this is being spent in the regions is wrong.
Basically none of this money will go west of the Great Dividing Range, let alone to where the resources come from.
The opportunity to build key water infrastructure to droughtproof and grow regional Queensland is being ignored.
Since Federation it has always been the responsibility of state governments to build water infrastructure, because the Constitution says they own the resource. Well for the past 30 years the Queensland Government has done bugger all.
Despite the Federal Government pledging more than $3.2 billion in support of states building new water infrastructure, the Queensland Government has simply thumbed its nose at the opportunity.
You can only surmise it's based on an ideological view that it won't appeal to inner-city, progressive voters.
A perfect example of this is the Emu Swamp Dam at Stanthorpe, one of Queensland's biggest food bowls, where this year alone growers have literally spent millions of dollars carting water to grow the fruit and vegetables that we enjoy each day.
The project is worth $84 million and the growers themselves have committed $24 million, which shows their commitment and need for this dam. The Federal Government has committed $47 million but the Queensland Government in last week's Budget didn't commit one cent of the measly $13 million required to complete the project.
This is just one example of the wasted opportunities in regional Queensland thanks to the State Government.
But to really put the boot in one last time to those west of the Great Divide, the State Government has not committed anything extra to support drought-affected farmers and communities in this Budget. The Federal Government has committed more than $7 billion so far.
The Queensland Government has since January been sitting on a drought review of its commitments but refuses to release it.
What are they hiding and why won't they commit to further support? I have asked them to provide relief for farmers and small businesses in drought areas through rate relief but they didn't even respond.
The State Government has also reneged on a $5 million commitment on prickly acacia to flood-affected farmers in North West Queensland.
Those of us west of the Great Divide need those in the southeast to hear us.
We're not asking for special treatment, just our fair share and a go.
That's the Queensland I thought we were.
David Littleproud is Federal Minister for Water Resources, Drought, Rural Finance, Natural Disaster and Emergency Management