Petition for referendum on North Eastern state of Australia up for discussion

Bill Bates has launched an online petition, calling for the state government to hold a referendum on creating a northern state. Photo: Melody Labinsky
Bill Bates has launched an online petition, calling for the state government to hold a referendum on creating a northern state. Photo: Melody Labinsky

The establishment of a northern state is being discussed across regional Queensland once more, thanks to Bill Bates.

Mr Bates has created a petition, requesting a state referendum to allow Queenslanders who live north of the 26th latitude to create a North Eastern state of Australia. 

He said 75 per cent of the seats in parliament were from the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and Brisbane area.

Many of Queensland’s politicians had no affinity for regional Queensland, he said, and influence on rural issues was diminishing.

“For that 75 per cent to get elected, they may adopt positions to satisfy their voters that may be detrimental to regional Queensland voters,” he said.

“Unless we do something to break the status quo - regional Queensland is always going to be in a diminishing situation.”

Mr Bates was in Mount Isa and Cloncurry last week, before heading to other Queensland districts. 

He is originally from Victoria, and travelled to Cairns for the past decade before settling there four years ago.

The 26th latitude was chosen was the boundary to ensure the new state would be economically viable. 

“You get a state that’s got about 1.5 million people and it’s got an area of about 1.4 million square kilometres; that’s comparable in population and area to South Australia,” he said.

“It has more arable land and more natural resources; if you compare Queensland to South Australia, South Australia gets about $300 million in royalties form minerals, Queensland gets over two billion dollars.”

Member for Mount Isa Robbie Katter has been a proponent of a northern state for many years.

“Quite simply put, many of the laws made in Brisbane are done with the best intentions but regretfully are done with little regard to the impact they will have on regional areas,” he said.

“As Geoff Blainey famously said, ‘Australia has created no new states since 1859: the United States in contrast has created close to 20’. 

“It’s quite easy to do, we’re more than capable of financially handling ourselves and it would be fairer to the people of south east Queensland.”

Mr Katter said the depopulation of outback areas was becoming a self-manifesting problem.

The more you look into the issue, the more imperative it becomes, he said. 

“Once you get over 10,000 signatures we've got new guidelines in parliament to ensure it will be debated in the parliament.

“I think it’s more than achievable [to get the signatures]; if the number is even bigger it becomes a question of credibility for the government, if they are going to ignore it as such strong support in regional areas.”