By Paul Hemsley
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has talked-up the prospect of moving substantial parts of the state’s bureaucracy out of Brisbane and into regional areas in plans to entice half of Sunshine State’s population to live outside its south-east corner within the next 30 years.
Dubbed the ‘Queensland Plan’, the long term vision aims to spread both population and government jobs into regional areas to help boost economic growth and sustainability away from the increasingly crowded South East corner.
The Premier is out selling the idea to councils and this week took his message to councils at the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) Conference in Cairns.
Mr Newman said that regional towns and cities will have to double their growth over the next three decades.
He told the conference that for regional growth to be accomplished, councils need to start thinking about how it will happen, where people will live and what infrastructure is needed.
Created in February 2013, the Queensland Plan calls for governments and industries to generate ideas about what Queensland will look like generations out from from now.
So far regional councils are welcoming the outward push.
Mr Newman’s address to the LGAQ was warmly welcomed by Toowoomba Regional Council.
The local government area – which was hit hard by the devastating floods of 2010-2011 – is especially keen on moves to relocate a number of government offices to regional Queensland.
Toowoomba’s Mayor, Paul Antonio, said that his council can cater for strong population growth in the coming years and already has a number of initiatives to encourage medium and high density development in residential areas.
"Those of us who are fortunate to live here know what a fantastic place Toowoomba is to live and work, and we are ready and willing to welcome more residents,” Mr Antonio said.
He said Toowoomba enjoyed strong relationships with state and federal governments, industry groups and that “business will ensure the continued growth and development we need in this region”.
Despite clear enthusiasm, specifics on how the Queensland Plan will be put into practice remain somewhat vague and the Newman government is still not giving out hard numbers about how many public service jobs may be moved, or into which regions.
A Toowoomba Regional Council spokesperson told Government News Premier Newman was “throwing the idea out there” and that there is presently “nothing concrete”.
“There have been no details yet about which departments or the number of people who might relocate to the regions,” the spokesperson said.
The Premier’s office said that a copy of Mr Newman’s speech was not available and that he spoke “off the cuff.”
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