John Dunmore Lang's proposal for three colonies in Queensland in 1857.

John Dunmore Lang's proposal for three colonies in Queensland in 1857.

Among the big news items in the past seven days was the call of the Katter’s Australian Party for a new state in northern Queensland.

Robbie Katter told state parliament it was important that we revisit lines that drawn on a map hundreds of years ago, and look at the way we manage the state and efficiently overcome social and economic problems with no major infrastructure problems in the north of the state for 30 years.

"Given some of the indicators of unemployment perhaps it is a good time to rethink things," Mr Katter said.

Mr Katter quoted historian Geoffrey Blainey who said Australia had created no new states since 1859 while the US has created close to 20: “For a land of this size we do not have enough states and thus miss out on the advantages of federalism.”

This call is as old as Queensland itself, in fact older as settler John Dunmore Lang called for it as far back as 1857.

Lang proposed three new colonies: “Cooksland” centred on Moreton Bay with its northern border at the Tropic of Capricorn, above that “Leichhardtsland” and then a third covering Cape York peninsula called “Flinders Land”.

Bob Katter called for a separate state in 2010 saying federal and state governments had failed in their constitutional obligation to fairly distribute funding across the state and the north had “a gutful of the blood-sucking establishment of the south.”

Treasurer Curtis Pitt asked last week how would a new North Queensland state be funded. “There has (been no) discussion of how much it would cost to run the necessary health, education, police and emergency services,” Mr Pitt said. He said mining royalties were just a fraction of state government revenue.

“North Queensland does provide around $2b more than the rest of Queensland, but in a proposed state which has 21% of Queensland’s current population mining royalties would not cover for the loss of other state taxation revenue, which is disproportionately collected in South-East Queensland,” he said. 

It is a problem that must be addressed, otherwise North Queensland, like Queensland itself in 1859, would start its existence penniless. DB

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