3 April 2014
IN 1942, the “Brisbane Line” was an alleged plan to abandon Northern Australia in the event of a Japanese invasion during the Pacific campaign of WWII.
The allegation was made during an election campaign in October 1942 and while hotly disputed by the government of the day, the allegation gained currency when General Douglas McArthur made mention of it in a statement to the media in March 1943.
While the attempted WWII invasion was heroically repelled on the historic battlefields of Papua New Guinea and in the torrid Battle of the Coral Sea, a Japanese invasion of a different kind did, in fact, occur but not until the mid- 1980s when affluent Japanese tourists fell in love with the beautiful attractions of Cairns and Far North Queensland and the rest is history.
However, I believe the “Brisbane Line” philosophy has left an indelible mark on the political psyche since WWII and that this country’s development has progressively become more centralised and concentrated around the capital cities to our south. This has resulted in a general lack of understanding and attention to Northern Australia’s potential to drive Australia’s future prosperity and therefore a lack of infrastructure investment in the north.
The focus of the Abbott Government’s pre-election policy statement and the subsequent establishment of the Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia, to assist with the White Paper, are hugely welcomed by us Northerners and should be broadly acknowledged by all Australians.
One of the most significant challenges for the Government is to hook the broader Australian population into this bold initiative. That will not be easy.This is a time for progressive partisanships not poisonous parochialism. We must very cleverly play to each region’s current and potential strengths if we are to be serious about maximising the capacities and capabilities of Northern Australia because a more prosperous Northern Australia is a greater Australia.
Courtesy of the Townsville Bulletin
3 April 2014