Queensland Government working to deliver and implement the next phase of economic plan, Queensland Minister says

The Queensland Government is working to deliver and implement the next phase of our economic plan to ensure we make the most of our natural resources and our skills, Queensland Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, the Hon. Dr Anthony Lynham has told a CEDA audience.

Speaking at the Queensland Economic Development Forum, Dr Lynham said “Queensland businesses have every reason to be confident and to remain optimistic about our future and the opportunities ahead of us, both in our state and in our nation as well as in the global economy.”

“We are striking the right balance to drive investment in major projects, build and diversify our regional economies which are very important to us, create the jobs of the future in our priority industries and establish areas where industrial development can thrive.”

Dr Lynham discussed the State’s energy sector.

“I just want to focus on the renewable economy that we are developing and we are very strong in this sector,” he said.

“People forget, 50 per cent of renewables by 2030 means 50 per cent of something else. And 50 per cent of something else is going to be coal and gas.

“Queensland will always have a strong coal sector. Always. It will never disappear. Because something like 75 per cent of the value of our coal is metallurgical coal. And that coal will continue to be mined, continued to be exported, and continued to be used across the world in the manufacturer of steel and in the manufacture of renewables.

“But we’re leading the charge in transitioning Queensland to a clean energy future with key developments, such as the Kidston Hydro and Solar project, and the Coopers Gap wind farm. The once great Kidston coal mine…is starting another economic life…and is becoming a solar, but also a pumped storage hydro, power producer for the state.

“It pumps water during the day, through solar panels…to a damn, at the top of a mountain during the night that water flows down as hydro and the cycle is repeated.

“It is enough to provide all of Townsville’s peak power demands through renewable resources. Reliable renewable sources.

“The first stage is due to be completed this year.”

Dr Lynham also discussed growth sectors for the Queensland economy. “We’re investing money in a biomedical centre. We know how this sector alone can be a real jobs generator into Queensland and we hope to deliver 3000 new jobs into Queensland as quickly as we can,” he said.

“We have a biomedical assistant fund as part of that package but also some of the simple things. “There is $500 million available for biomedical research in Australia today (Federal Biomedical Translation Fund).

“We’re organising for Queensland companies to untap or unlock that research money.”

Also speaking at the event was Coles Chief Economist, Peter Crone, who highlighted the Queensland Budget which was recently released, including one of the objectives to increase state economic activity. Mr Crone said that Queensland has slightly more restricted trading hours than some of the other states around the country.

“If we’re trying to get the state going, get the activity going, well maybe opening some of those stores with slightly more hours would be a good thing,” he said.

“We’ve actually got three stores in Queensland where we can’t trade on the Sunday – Eyre, Mt Isa and Goondiwindi.

“We actually had the ridiculous situation with Cyclone Debbie where the cyclone was expected to hit Monday, Tuesday. People were wanting to come into our stores to stock up and we couldn’t open on Sunday. We had the Mayor of Eyre on the phone to us saying please open your store up.

“So this is a bit of a plea.

“The Queensland Government did try to liberalise trading hours at the beginning of the year but it was regrettable that the opposition didn’t support that.” Mr Crone also discussed the role of businesses in driving state growth.

“What I really want to impress is that family budgets are doing it pretty tough, so you’ve really got to respond to that by making sure there’s a good value offer.

“There are challenges in terms of getting some broader based economic growth going but I think it’s up to us and up to businesses, up to our political leaders, to talk this place up.

“There are some big challenges, but I think there’s so much going…for Queensland.”

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Heritage Bank, Chief Executive Officer, Peter Lock discussed regional growth.

“Economic development of the regions is more important in Queensland than the other states,” he said.

“Geography in our regions can be seen as an economic opportunity. The diversity gives many opportunities in different industries and sectors. “There are some challenges regional cities do face.

“Attracting people to our regions can be a little tricky…people perceive there is a lack of career advancement opportunities, there is a lack of work opportunities for spouses, social and support networks for families…medical support and education come into that as well.

“But that’s not the case.” Mr Lock said in Toowamba attracting graduates wasn’t a problem but retaining or attracting senior staff was.

“The tyranny of distance we have means our regions have to develop their own ecosystems to flourish,” he said.

Mr Lock said the financial services sector could assist in driving growth.

“Financial services is set to overtake some of the states more traditional industries,” he said.

“It’s the sixth largest industry at the moment but with the rate of growth it’s predicted it will overtake transport and manufacturing in a few years’ time.

“We can position ourselves as the challenger state for financial services. This is a huge opportunity for us…and it is a huge opportunity to encourage regional growth.”

Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, Chief Executive Officer, Laurie Walker said the focus of the Commonwealth entity is about “transformational change…not about inching forward.”

Ms Walker said there was immense potential for North Australia as they produce 11 per cent of GDP but account for 40 per cent of land mass, while the growing middle class in Asia presents an opportunity to overcome previous challenges such as the tyranny of distance.

“We recognise there is an element of build it and they will come, but we absolutely need to be very confident that there is a foundation customer and that the other users will come…because our money has to be repaid…it’s not a grant,” she said.