Reclaiming our share of the $1billion infrastructure gap

CityLife Business

Regional Development Australia

Reclaiming our share of the $1billion infrastructure gap

Sonja Johnson
: (07) 4041 1729

Chief Executive Officer
Regional Development Australia
Tropical North (RDA)

Regional Development Australia Tropical North (RDATN) recently commissioned a report into the ‘state of play’ of economic development in the region, with the intention of synthesising existing plans from various agencies and organisations. As part of a renewed Charter, RDATN is commissioned with delivering a cohesive Tropical North Queensland Economic Development Strategy which will inform Queensland and Commonwealth governments about our region’s priorities and aid in investment decision making.

The report outlined that when compared to similar sized regions, Tropical North Queensland is $1billion behind in infrastructure investment. As a region we collectively need to come together to address this shortfall. Advance Cairns, FNQ Regional Organisation of Councils, Torres and Cape Indigenous Councils Alliance, Enterprise North, Cairns Regional Council and RDATN all work very closely together to advocate for our fair share, however more needs to be done.

The FNQ Regional Plan 2009, which is the statutory planning document for a large part of the TNQ region, needs updating to meet the vast demographic, population, technological and industry changes experienced in the past decade.

This plan is the cornerstone for land use planning and identification of Priority Development Areas. While the State Government is currently finalising the Wide Bay Burnett Regional Plan, we anticipate that the FNQ Regional Plan 2009 review will commence soon.

To support the FNQ Regional Plan 2009 review process, RDATN is working with the Queensland government and local councils to deliver an engagement framework that will support state government departments. Building on the significant work of other regional agencies, it is the intention of RDATN to adopt a ‘whole of region’ collaborative approach to articulate a clear, united regional vision and identify key Priority Development Areas to influence infrastructure investment, land use planning and policies affecting the TNQ region. The approach includes framing the region within a global context (research already undertaken by RDATN) and a Northern Australia context, to better understand the region’s competitive advantages in servicing existing and emerging markets.

The framework and governance structure would drive support from three tiers of government to articulate Priority Development Areas and the Regional Infrastructure Plan which would then in turn, influence State and Commonwealth budgets and policy positions.

A unified position on 4-5 key transformational project or policy initiatives for our region is the key to addressing the $1billion infrastructure lag. By working collaboratively, across three tiers of government and with other economic development agencies, the TNQ Economic Development Strategy will drive an investment package that will fulfil the aspirations of our community well into the future.

The strategy will capture key accountabilities for each department, agency or organisation with a monitoring and evaluation framework implemented for the life of the strategy. It is vitally important to ensure that the regional vision is met in the coming 20 years.

Now is the time to pull together as a region, unify in our aspirations with both State and Commonwealth governments and deliver transformative initiatives to close the infrastructure lag.