CALLING it a landmark plan to maximise the long-term economic growth and liveability of Queensland's regions, the Queensland Government this week released the Queensland Regionalisation Strategy for public consultation.
Premier Anna Bligh, Deputy Premier Paul Lucas and Minister for Regional Economies Tim Mulherin launched the strategy yesterday and called it a bold vision for a stronger state.
Ms Bligh said the groundbreaking strategy highlights the essential role of Queensland's regional areas to cater for future population growth.
"Our vision builds on the traditional strengths of each region and encourages people and businesses to consider the advantages of other regions outside the heavily populated south-east," Ms Bligh said.
With an additional 2.5 million people expected to be living in Queensland by 2031, Ms Bligh said population growth can be managed in a controlled way to ensure that all Queenslanders benefit.
"The Queensland Regionalisation Strategy seeks to ease growing pains and strengthen prosperity by promoting and improving the economic links within and across our regional cities and towns," Ms Bligh said.
"Planning is the key to dealing with the changes expected from increased population. With foresight, coordination and strong management, the projected population increase can be accommodated," the strategy states.
The strategy promotes investment in infrastructure and services to support the existing strengths and quality of life in Queensland's regions and to encourage more people to settle outside of South East Queensland.
"Attracting people to the regions, where and when they are needed, is an essential part of effectively managing Queensland's future population growth," the strategy states.
The strategy details 31 proposed actions to sustain long-term growth, encourage workers to the regions, support new business investment and improve partnerships between governments.
These include an integrated Queensland freight strategy; new energy opportunities; more local skills training aimed at regional needs; better regional relocation opportunities; jobs for Indigenous peoples; suitable industrial land; a single coordination point in government to support investment; and development of a regular map of significant growth areas.
The government said the Queensland Regionalisation Strategy is underpinned by the Queensland Infrastructure Plan, which was also released this week for public consultation.
The Queensland Regionalisation Strategy divides the state into seven regions:
- South East Queensland;
- Darling Downs South West;
- Wide Bay Burnett;
- Central Queensland;
- Mackay Isaac and Whitsunday;
- North Queensland; and
- Far North Queensland.
Mr Lucas said building prosperity in the regions was crucial to Queensland's future.
"This strategy provides a practical and straightforward way of managing growth in contrast to simply unchecked growth in the south-east.
"We need a clear plan on how to target opportunities and grow each region, and the QRS provides us with that plan," Mr Lucas said.
Mr Lucas said that once finalised, the strategy will be the pre-eminent state planning tool, informing statutory regional plans, infrastructure plans and other supporting programs.
More information on the draft Queensland Regionalisation Strategy is available from the Department of Local Government and Planning website at <http://www.dlgp.qld.gov.au/>. Community consultation will run until September 9.