Premier Campbell Newman’s own inner-city Brisbane electorate was thinking about opportunities to grow the state’s regional areas.
Premier Campbell Newman’s own inner-city Brisbane electorate was thinking about opportunities to grow the state’s regional areas. Brenda Strong

Regional areas focus on their vision for Queensland

BREATHING life back into regional Queensland became a central issue for hundreds of community leaders tasked with setting a 30-year vision for Queensland in motion.

Even the Premier Campbell Newman's own inner-city Brisbane electorate was thinking about opportunities to grow the state's regional areas.

"They were asking how could we encourage the cities and towns outside south-east Queensland to grow and how can we really continue to decentralise Queensland but make it a strong state as a result," he said.

With butchers paper and texts at the ready, 450 people from all around the state began posing questions they could take back to their communities to ultimately create The Queensland Plan.

Tacking the first drafts onto boards around a huge room at the Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre, the Whitsundays team asked how it could increase economic growth while conserving the natural environment while Gladstone asked how to equip future generations to trade in a global economy.

"What will a sustainable rural and regional community look like?" the Southern Downs and Warrego group asked.

"How can we balance the demands for water and food production against the needs of industry, energy, environment and housing?" Toowoomba South posed.

"What opportunities can we create to attract a broader demographic mix on the Sunshine Coast," asked Noosa.

Maryborough MP Anne Maddern said if her region could become adaptable and develop "that community sense", the decentralisation process would happen naturally as a consequence.

"I think it needs to be a response rather than forced," she said.

Burnett electorate delegate John Russon said he believed road and rail infrastructure was underused in the state.

"I think we need to look at the decentralisation of Queensland," Mr Russon said.

"We've got such a diverse state, why do we need all infrastructure to be based in south-east Queensland?"

Rockhampton real estate agent Pat O' Driscoll believes the fabric to give regions more power is already in place - the government just needs to take action.

"With IT today you don't need to be based in Brisbane," he said.

His thoughts were echoed by the man sitting across from him at the Rockhampton-Keppel table.

Rocky's Own Transport owner Bryan Smith said with only 55% of the population in Australia's five major cities, the time to move power away from south-east Queensland was now.

"Fifty-five percent (of people) live in the five capital cities... that's not healthy," Mr Smith said.

"(The Government) has got to do something about it."CSIRO principal scientist Stefan Hajkowicz got the crowd thinking with a presentation on future megatrends set to change the way Queenslanders live.

Mr Hajkowicz said Queenslanders needed to think about resource scarcity - the declining availability of water, food, energy and mineral resources - which would affect the Queensland economy.

He said they also needed to think about precarious position of the world's biodiversity "where the coming decades will set the scene for the coming millennia".

Mr Hajkowicz said the new "silk highway" would result in the repositioning of the world economy as the China and India economies grew so quickly.

Environment Department Director-General Andrew Chesterman, who has been behind much of the planning for the event, said the summit met his expectations and he hoped the ambassadors would take it even further within their communities.

"Like a crescendo you could see it build and there's a real energy in the room right now that we're going to capitalise on," he said.Mr Newman, in closing the event, urged all Queenslanders to get involved.

"Please do go back to the community today and excite people," he said.

"You are the ambassadors but we need a whole lot more."


CSIRO'S mega trends

  • Great expectations: Consumer and societal expectations for services, experience and social interaction
  • Virtually here: Increasing connectivity is impacting shops, offices, cities, governance models and lifestyles
  • More from less: Increasing demand for limited resources
  • Going, going, gone: A window of opportunity to protect habitats, biodiversity and the global climate
  • The silk highway: Rapid economic growth in Asia and the developing world
  • Forever young: An ageing population, rising health care expenditure and changing retirement models


Queensland Summit questions revealed

  • LIVING IN MY COMMUNITY - In the context of living in the community, how do we move our focus from me to we?
  • EDUCATION AND RESEARCH - How do we create and foster an education culture that teaches skills and values to meet the global challenges and optimises regional strengths?
  • HEALTHY AND ACTIVE - How do we empower and educate individuals, communities and institutions to embrace responsibility for an active and healthy lifestyle?
  • JOBS, PARTICIPATING AND THE ECONOMY - How do we structure our economy to ensure our children inherit a resilient future?
  • SUSTAINABLE LANDSCAPES - How do we strengthen our economic future and achieve sustainable landscapes?
  • WILDCARD - How do we attract and retain the brightest minds and ideas where they are most needed and capitalise on global opportunities?

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