The huge growth happening in Queensland will significantly contribute to the national economy, but there needs to be a more honest national discussion on the role of cleaner transitional fuels such as gas, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh told a CEDA conference in Melbourne.
Ms Bligh said the optimism and confidence in Queensland had helped with the remarkable recovery of Queensland from the devastating Queensland floods, but that optimism and confidence seemed to be lacking in the national mood and debate.
"There is so much cause for optimism…we are smack bang in the middle of a century of opportunity," she said, with Asia to the north and "the next Asia", Latin America, to the east.
"We see ourselves perfectly position to be selling into the two fastest growing markets of this century," she said.
Ms Bligh said the Queensland economy was "set to rocket this financial year right out of its toughest year in living memory" to lead Australia.
While Queensland was known as a mining state and the resources sector underpinned Queensland's growth, Ms Bligh said Queensland had the opportunity to be much more, providing product and innovation, expertise and skills across a range of sectors including education, health and tourism.
For example she said the Queensland Government had set the task of doubling agriculture production by 2020, which would be driven through investment in research and innovation, allowing Queensland to become a food source for neighbouring countries.
On challenges, Ms Bligh said skills shortages and demonisation of the gas industry were key issues.
She said supply of skilled labour for major projects planned for Queensland was a huge challenge and also that some of the skills training needed, for example in the recently developed gas industry in Queensland, where not provided in Australia through universities or apprenticeships, an area they were trying to address.
"One of the other serious impediments is…a very concerted campaign by some to demonise the gas industry and there is a very concerted campaign to bring down all fossil fuels," she said.
"I think we need leadership and we need people speaking rationally about how we are as a country, and a nation and a planet are going to supply our energy needs over the next 20, 30, 50 years if we don't have cleaner transitional fuels and gas is a part of that.
"I think that's a debate that needs to be articulated much more assertively than it is being by both some of the companies and people on the national stage, as well as my own state."
In summing up she said: "Whether you're doing business in or with Queensland, what is happening in my state is going to change the face of the country and is going to change the face of the national economy," she said.
"I think it is important people understand it, but even more important is that people get excited by it and out of that excitement have a real sense of business confidence and sense our best years are just around the corner."