Article – Warren Entsch says Prime Minister Tony Abbott supports plan for federal bureaucrats to be moved to northern Australia

28 October 2013
Steven Scott
Herald Sun

Federal bureaucrats could soon be enjoying the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon on their day off, with plans mooted to move some departme

Federal bureaucrats could soon be enjoying the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon on their day off, with plans mooted to move some departments to the tropical north. Source: News Limited

Public service goes troppo

Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch wants to see more government agencies based out of north Queensland. Source: News Limited

CAIRNS could become the Canberra of the north under a plan to force public servants to move from the national capital to the tropics.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is considering a call by Cairns-based MP Warren Entsch to shift a handful of federal bureaucrats to his city for a year to work on the Coalition’s plans to develop the north.
The move is designed to be the first of many public servant relocations with Mr Enstch keen for other agencies that did work in the region to follow.
He said the CSIRO, AQIS and divisions of AusAID that target South-East Asia and the Pacific could also be based in Northern Australia.
Mr Entsch, who will chair a committee tasked with developing a wide-ranging Northern Australia white paper within a year, said he wants several public servants to be relocated to his city this year and many more to follow.
“We are looking at relevant agencies possibly moving to Northern Australia and I have suggested to Tony [Abbott] that it would be a good start by having the committee secretariat based in Northern Australia,” Mr Entsch told The Courier-Mail.
“I’ve had the discussion with the Prime Minister and he agrees that it’s a good idea.”
Mr Abbott pledged before the election to devise a suite of policies to develop Northern Australia within a year of forming government.

Public service about to go troppo

Cairns’ beaches could soon be teeming with federal public servants, relocated from Canberra.Source: News Limited

The Coalition has set targets for boosting international tourists to Northern Australia to two million a year, doubling Australia’s agricultural output by expanding farming in the region and building a $150 billion energy export industry by 2030.
It is considering tax perks to encourage families to move north of the Tropic of Capricorn but is unlikely to adopt the idea of a company tax haven proposed by Kevin Rudd during the election campaign.
Mr Entsch said it was a “no-brainer” to then move other agencies that did work in the region, including the CSIRO, AQIS and divisions of AusAID.
“Normally you’d have them in Canberra, but those agencies need to be closer to the areas where they are having some sort of influence,” he said.
“I’m not too sure of many AusAID funded projects in New Zealand or Antarctica.”
Mr Entsch said he wanted medical research facilities focused on tropical diseases and a world-class training centre for elite athletes in the region.
Measures for lower insurance premiums, better transport links and increased job opportunities will also be priorities in the white paper, he said.
“It’s not a bad place to live, you know. Some people come up here and they don’t want to leave,” Mr Entsch said.
“But you need to create incentives and make sure there are jobs.”
The government would cover the cost of relocating and accommodating the committee secretariat, who would only be temporary residents of Cairns.
But Mr Entsch said taxpayers would save money on travel by basing the secretariat in the region they were investigating and more people would be able to make submissions on the policy.
Advance Cairns chief executive Mark Matthews said Cairns provided a logical base for the white paper secretariat because of the ease of access to other cities in the north.
But he added Cairns was the perfect place for jaded public servants from the south.
“Cairns is the world’s most livable tropical city,” he said.
“We’ve got a great lifestyle, great schools and restaurants.”
Mr Matthew’s group, which lobbies for development of the north, has already been in discussions with Mr Entsch about moving public servants to the region.
Advance Cairns has offered to second some staff to the white paper secretariat and is pushing for AusAID’s Pacific secretariat to be based in Cairns, noting there were regular flights to PNG and links across the Asia-Pacific.
Mr Matthews has also been in talks with Defence to move a malaria research unit from Brisbane’s Enoggera Barracks to Cairns.
Government agencies would boost the region’s economy and create more jobs than the cyclical tourism industry, he said.
Courtesy of the Herald Sun