UPGRADING the rail link between Mount Isa and Townsville is among the projects north Queensland leaders would like to see funded in the upcoming State Budget.
Treasurer Jackie Trad is set to hand down her first budget on Tuesday and Townsville Enterprise CEO Patricia O’Callaghan said for north Queensland, the key test for any budget was job creation and investment.
“Our region still has high unemployment and we need to see commitments towards projects and policies that will stimulate jobs, investment and confidence,” Ms O’Callaghan said. “We acknowledge that the challenges in our region will not be fixed overnight, but greater public investment into a pipeline of projects will not only create jobs immediately, but set the roadmap for our future.”
Ms O’Callaghan said priorities included the Mount Isa to Townsville Supply Chain, lowering energy prices, regulating the Mount Isa to Townsville Air route, and tourism infrastructure.
“The Mount Isa to Townsville supply chain is an important link into one of the richest mineral provinces in the world, yet it is not working effectively nor efficiently,” she said.
The Mount Isa to Townsville supply chain is an important link into one of the richest mineral provinces in the world- Patricia O'Callaghan
“We need to address the cost of access and ensure rail is the most cost-effective option to transport products between the regions.”
KAP MPs Robbie Katter, Shane Knuth and Nick Dametto also identified the rail line as a priority and said funding should be allocated to reduce regulatory rail charges. They called for government support to construct a high voltage electricity transmission line to connect the North West Minerals Province to the National Electricity Market.
They also identified the high cost of regional airfares and said incentives should be provided to attract new airlines to the regions.
Youth crime was also a concern and they called on the government to implement their relocation sentencing policy to aid in the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders.
They also asked for $250,000 to create an independent body to investigate establishing a separate north Queensland state.
Feral animals and weeds were also a concern, with KAP calling for increased funding to control feral pigs and dogs and invasive weeds like prickly acacia and navua sedge.
Burdekin MP and Opposition spokesman for north Queensland Dale Last said he feared the budget would feature very little for regional Queensland.
“All I ask is that we get our fair share of the pie,” Mr Last said.
Mr Last said funding was required for several road upgrades in his vast electorate, including upgrading the Bruce Highway at Gumlu and Alligator Creek.
Upgrades to boat ramps, sport precincts, community halls and police and ambulance stations were also priorities.
Mr Last said his top priority was $50,000 for a pre-feasibility study into a Food Processing Plant in Bowen.
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