Article – Special Economic Zone – Daily Mercury, Mackay

29 September 2012

By George Christensen, Member for Dawson

Calls for a North Queensland special economic zone are worthy of support but the concept must include cutting red tape and offering incentives like tax breaks for business and greater zonal rebates for taxpayers.

North Queensland has been seeking a fair share for years.

The mining boom is benefiting from regional Australia but it is not regional Australia that benefits from the mining boom.

The councils are to be commended for taking up the initiative, but this can’t just be a group of local governments getting together and asking the government for infrastructure.

Applying innovative strategies to a zone across the sparsely populated top half of the country will create a better balance of work, opportunity, population, and services.

A proposal from Australians for Northern Development and Economic Vision (ANDEV) outlines a means of developing the northern half of the continent from the Bowen Basin on the east coast across to south of Port Hedland in Western Australia and taking in all of the Northern Territory.

Northern Australia contains half the land mass of the nation but less than 5% of the population. It is also home to most of the resources sector.

Regulation, programs, funding and incentives can be applied within this economic zone to make it more attractive to both population and investment.

ANDEV has already identified issues and obstacles for northern Australia, including a labour shortage, undeveloped infrastructure, and lack of investment.

Creating a separate economic zone that encourages population growth, opportunities and development will make us a more productive nation.

We cant just sit back and say we want more government money coming into the region. We have to create the right environment for growth.

Some of the incentives to attract population and investment include: Greater zonal rebates for taxpayers; Reduced regulations and red tape; Investment in infrastructure to drive economy; Keeping industry competitive in global markets; Foreign visitor worker programs; Lower tax rates on personal income, payroll, stamp duty, fringe benefits, fuel; Retaining state-based royalties for investment in infrastructure; and Company tax breaks