Article – Queensland Election: SEQ mayors 'polarising people'

23 January 2015
Kristian Silva
Brisbane Times
A group of South East Queensland councils has been accused of trying polarise the state, after asking governments to allocate funding for their area instead of regional Queensland.
While declaring regional Queensland “is not a competitor”, the Council of Mayors of South East Queensland says investment in the South East “ensures a quality of life for all”.
“We are Queensland’s Core Growth Region,” chairman Graham Quirk said in a new advocacy document, released on Thursday.
“At its simplest, investment in Queensland’s regions cannot be at the expense of Queensland’s Core Growth Region, or all will lose out. If SEQ works, Queensland works.”
The council of mayors is an alliance of 12 municipalities, stretching from the Gold Coast to Noosa and from Toowoomba to Brisbane’s bayside.
Cr Quirk’s statement was not well received in the regions.
“Give me a break,” was the response of Cairns Mayor Bob Manning.
“Once you start forming groups like this, all you do is polarise people and people go to the trenches. It really does polarise opinions and views across all local governments.”
Mount Isa Mayor Tony McGrady, a former Labor state MP for 27 years, said productive areas of Queensland had been neglected for years.
“The reality is the wealth of Queensland – whether we like it or not – comes from mining camps, the mining cities and cattle properties of the state,” he said.
“You take the royalties which the Queensland government get from the resources sector out of the equation, and (treasurer) Tim Nicholls would have a very difficult job trying to bring down a budget.”
One request from the Council of Mayors of South East Queensland included a commitment that disaster funding remain at the same level as from 2008 to 2014.
Others included a $2 billion rail line between the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast, billions of dollars of road upgrades, more marketing for South East Queensland, and tax concessions for major projects with foreign investment.
Cr Quirk, who is also Brisbane’s Lord Mayor, said the alliance wanted to work closely with state and federal governments regardless of which party was in control.
The Abbott government wants boost development in northern Australia over the coming decades, with a focus on the top end of WA and Queensland, as well as the NT.
Last year, the federal government declared it wanted to increase mining, farming and tourism in the region.
Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk.
Courtesy of the Brisbane Times