Source: Government of Queensland Regions
In a mere eight weeks we enter the 2020s.
And I see that new decade as the beginning of a new age for Queensland.
I believe our best times are ahead of us and that hasn’t happened by accident.
My government has been planning strategically and purposefully to guide Queensland through that new age.
A century ago, the Labor Government of the 1920s shared a similar vision.
History may have recorded the 1920s as the Jazz Age – a period of significant cultural upheaval throughout the world – but for Queensland the 1920s were a turning point as the government of the day steered the ship toward greater economic prosperity and achieved that, in large part, by joining the geographical dots and transforming the most decentralised state in the country into a connected Queensland.
As Queensland entered the 1920s, the determined vision was for a connected state.
And you can see from the map of 1920 Queensland behind me that centres like Charters Towers and Winton, Maryborough and Cloncurry and Longreach were considered just as important as the major coastal centres.
They were at the centre of Queensland trade and economic activity.
Just as they are today, though the map of today has changed somewhat.
For a start, Mt Isa is now on the map today as a centre of mining which didn’t exist in the 1920s.
Today I want to focus on where Queensland is headed over the next 12 months as we head rapidly toward the year 2020 and the decade beyond.
It’s also an opportunity for me to provide you with a comprehensive picture of how my government has shaped Queensland over the past four-and-a-half years at the same time we look forward to the Queensland we leave for our future generations beyond 2030.
In 1920s Queensland, children in classrooms wrote on slates with chalk. Today, they are more proficient on ipads and tablets and working with robotics than probably most of us in this room.
In November 1920, Qantas was founded in Winton and registered as a business.
And two years later – in November 1922 – the first Qantas flights with regular service began between Charleville and Cloncurry
Ladies and gentlemen, how far we have come.
In 2020, Qantas will start new direct new routes from Brisbane to San Francisco and Chicago – the first direct flight to Chicago from any Australian city.
These new routes will pump an estimated $150 million into our economy over the next three years.
At the same time, the private sector is building Brisbane a second runway.
Between 1920 and 1931, 724 miles of railway was laid across Queensland, increasing the state’s rail system to 6,460 miles of track, at a total cost of 64 million pounds.
InDecember 1923, the Townsville to Mount Isa railway opened and a year later the coastal railway from Brisbane to Cairns was completed.
Today, rail is still of critical importance to connecting Queensland.
We are on the cusp of revolutionising public transport in Brisbane with the Cross River Rail project – which will deliver the first new Brisbane CBD train station in more than a century – and other important rail construction is carried out on a daily basis across the state.
The Maryborough region has also come of age as the manufacturing hub in rail construction and next month it will be 150 years since Downer’s first rail facility was established in the town .
In October 1927 the Roma Oil Bore set a record for oil production in Australia when 50 gallons of clean white oil came continuously from the 3 inch discharge pipe.
We remain an energy rich state in coal, gas and, increasingly, renewables and when the LNG industry was launched a decade ago, we said it would be 10 years before we’d see peak production.
Today our LNG exports to China have seen massive increases and we are on the edge of a revolutionary new clean and renewable resource industry in hydrogen that my government is determined to capitalize on.
The gross value of industrial production in Queensland increased from 52.6 million pounds in 1920 to a peak of almost 70 million pounds by 1925.
Today Queensland’s GSP is valued at $341.2 billion.
The value of Queensland exports grew from 14.4 million pounds in 1920 to 16.7 million pounds by 1931.
In August this year, Queensland’s merchandise exports reached a new record of $87.4 billion over the year.
That’s bigger than New South Wales and Victoria combined. Under my government, exports have increased by $43.3 billion.
Our agricultural backbone during the 1920s was dairy followed by the continued emergence of the sugar industry.
Over the decade from 1920 to 1930, sheep numbers in Queensland grew from 17.4 million to 22.5 million – second to NSW. It was a boom time.
Today, despite natural disasters with around 3 to 5 per cent of cattle lost in the North Queensland floods and ongoing drought, the beef industry remains our agricultural strength with exports increasing by 18 per cent – or $915 million – over the year ending in August to $6 billion.
Over the decades Queensland has experienced devastating natural disasters and devastating drought.
The current drought is affecting 66 per cent of our state.
Since the beginning of this drought crisis, $740 million has been committed by the Queensland Government.
The men, women and families who run the 18,400 farms in this state are doing it tough.
It’s critically important that we do all we can.
My government it committed to consulting with and listening to drought-affected communities.
We are getting out into those drought-affected regions and offering real, tangible, effective and concrete assistance through our $194 million Drought Assistance Package which delivers rebates for what our farmers require – water, power and fodder management.
We listened to graziers on wild dog fencing and provided $20 million extra to respond to feral pests.
That will see the latest round of funding for cluster fencing amount to nearly 9,000 kilometres.
In addition to this my government has supported 600 agriculture sector jobs through $10 million in Regional Economic Development grants.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We will do all we can to look after families affected by drought.
And just as governments of the 1920s helped transform Queensland …
My government has determinedly, unwaveringly and deliberately continued that legacy:
- To provide Queenslanders with jobs
- To build our economy
- To ensure we remain and grow as anexport powerhouse,
- To build crucial infrastructure
- To ensure no region goes without
- To support our most important growing and emerging industries
- To protect our natural assets and
- To ensure families are not forgotten and are taken care for
You will not often read about the achievements of a government of any persuasion on any given day in the newspaper.
You will not very often see television headlines about achievements either.
Achievement in government does not generally form part of the day-to-day media cycle.
But what I can say is that I am immensely proud of my government’s achievements over the past four years and, particularly, over the last 12 months.
What I can say is there is no doubt these achievements have helped shape the current state of the state.
What I can say is that my government’s planning and building for the future will shape the future.
What we have shown is that we are a government that cares for Queenslanders at the same time we are a government that has delivered and will continue to deliver for the people of Queensland.
Since my Government came into office in 2015, we have created more than 226,000 jobs.
More than 58,000 of those jobs were created in the 12 months to September this year.
That’s jobs that support families, that’s jobs that are vital to the on-going state of our economy and we remain determined to seriously address unemployment and under-employment.
And while the government is the largest single employer in the state, the number of jobs across the private sector today has reached 2.1 million.
We have to work in partnership with the private sector.
Today,Queensland’s economy outpaces the national average in terms of domestic economic growth.
Queensland’s economic growth is still forecast at 3 per cent this year – faster than the entire nation.
Queensland’s regions provide a vital on-going contribution to that economic growth.
They account for about one-third of the State’s total economic output.
Regional towns and cities account for more than 640,000 of the state’s total jobs.
They account for more than 70 per cent of all agricultural jobs and almost two-thirds of all mining jobs across the State.
At the same time, we understand that our regional economies are becoming more and more diverse and my Government is committed to that diversification to build stronger regional economies.
Our regions are a critical backbone in our export chain.
That’s why today I am proud to announce my government has approved almost $20 million to build export distribution hubs in Cairns and Toowoomba.
Up to $10 million will be dedicated to Air Freight Handling Services at Cairns Airport to develop an export distribution centre.
This centre will be designed to handle fresh produce, products and packaged goods for export and the construction involves an expansion to 3,200 export tonnes and 180 import tonnes each year with the capacity for even greater future expansion beyond the planned opening in June 2021.
This move increases Queensland’s opportunity to take our far north produce – including seafood and avocadoes, mangoes and melons and citrus fruits and blue berries – to the world.
My government has given further approval for up to $10 million for Wagners to develop an export distribution centre at the Toowoomba Wellcamp airport.
This will allow almost 7,000 additional export tonnes of capacity a year with further capacity for future expansion after operations commence in January 2021.
Our export trade is critical but also central to my government’s economic strategy to create jobs and grow the economy is providing affordable energy. I want Queensland to be the destination of choice for manufacturing investment in Australia because over three quarters of manufacturing jobs are secure, full-time jobs.
We are the only eastern state opening up our gas fields.
To date we have released more than 39,000 square kilometres of land for gas exploration including 8,500 square kilometres for the domestic market. This has supported Senex to deliver their $140 million Project Atlas investment with 150 to 200 jobs supported during construction and securing 200 manufacturing and industry jobs at CSR.
By unlocking gas supply, we have also supported a $106 million investment in Incitec Pivot’s Gibson Island plant securing another 400 jobs.
Today it has been announced that Comet Ridge and Denison Gas have been successful in securing further tenders for more gas for the domestic market. Senex Energy are now preparing to deliver the first gas exclusively for the east coast market.
My government has facilitated $20 billion of investment in the resources sector supporting over 7,000 jobs with new metallurgical coal, bauxite and zinc mines opening under my government.
Today I can announce that my government is going out for tender for another 30,000 square kilometres of land for gas exploration mostly across the Surat, Bowen and Galilee basins – an area almost size of Belgium – with 30 per cent of gas preserved for the Australian market protecting and creating local jobs.
Not only does unlocking this gas supply improve our competitive advantage in manufacturing and protect and create secure full-time jobs – it also supports investment in infrastructure with the potential to deliver a future renewable hydrogen industry.
That’s not just me saying this – that’s what Australia’s Chief Scientist, the CSIRO and the Federal Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency are saying.
Last month Geoscience Australia released their analysis showing that Queensland and the Northern Territory have the greatest potential for coastal and inland production of renewable hydrogen because of both the investments made in large-scale renewable energy and the infrastructure delivered for the LNG export industry.
My government is acting on the advice of our nation’s leading scientists to deliver large-scale renewables as well as hydrogen and biofuels strategies to set the framework for the future and we are delivering progress in a way that provides stability for business and lower prices for households. When we came to government, just 5 per cent of our energy was generated by renewables. By 2020, it will be 21 per cent.
We are determined to reach our 50% renewable energy target by 2030.
We are doing all that we can to make sure that Queensland remains at the centre of demand for both resources and renewable energy because that means stable and secure jobs.
All of this aligns with my government’s priority to create and sustain jobs.
Fighting for Queensland jobs and providing the opportunity of the dignity of work is what drives me every day.
We achieve that by also maintaining a clear focus on providing the essential frontline services Queenslanders require – by investing in health and education and transport and by investing in infrastructure in our regions and in skills and training.
Our investment in education and training this year is a record $14.9 billion.
Since 2015, my Government has built or started work on 18 new schools in areas of some of our highest population growth – areas like Calliope, Pimpama and Coomera, Baringa and Palmview.
And we are continuing to invest in training to ensure we meet the State’s future workforce needs.
SKILLS AND TRAINING
My government, as I have already mentioned, is creating record numbers of jobs – more than 226,000 in fact.
That includes an additional 430 police officers, 4,800 teachers and around 1,400 teacher aides, almost 6,000 nurses, more than 2,000 doctors and more than 500 ambulance officers.
We have to – and will – do even more to support Queensland businesses to make even more job creation possible by investing a further $80 million for Skilling Queenslanders for Work this year which will help up to 54,000 disadvantaged Queenslanders into work and funding $105.8 million in upgrades and improvements to our training infrastructure.
Australia has a skills shortage. Queensland has a skills shortage.
To grow for tomorrow, we need to ensure that our next generations are trained now.
We need to ensure that our young Queenslanders have clear pathways to develop skills through either our TAFE system or university.
In 1996, 60 per cent of employed Queenslanders didn’t have a post-school qualification.
The number of employed people without a post-school qualification has now fallen to less than 36 per cent. By next year more than half of all jobs will require a VET qualification.
That’s why last year we held Queensland’s first ever skills summit.
That’s why this weekend my government is launching a Take Your Future On campaign to promote the uptake of free apprenticeships in 139 priority skills for young Queenslanders aged up to 21 with over 60,000 young people expected to benefit as part of my Government’s Skills Strategy.
This is about ensuring the training for the aviation engineers, mechanics, chefs, hospitality workers, boiler makers, electricians, carpenters and lab technicians of tomorrow. My government’s Skills Strategy also includes free TAFE for year 12 graduates in the year immediately after school across 160 different priority qualifications.
We will continue to deliver on my Government’s $755 million flagship Advance Queensland program.
This is a landmark initiative, supporting the private sector in important areas like defence with Rheinmetall, which plans to base its construction of 225 state-of-the-art armoured vehicles near Ipswich and our important aviation partnership with Boeing.
We are playing a key role in unlocking new opportunities to grow traditional industries while at the same time helping to shape the development of emerging industries.
Of course there’s little point in progressing Queensland if we leave the protection of our environment behind.
My Government has committed $330 million towards preserving the Great Barrier Reef and improving water quality and we have delivered laws to protect 405,000 hectares of vegetation in catchments flowing into the reef area.
The Great Barrier Reef is critical to Queensland’s tourism industry that supports one in ten Queensland jobs.
And soon my government will be announcing how more support will be delivered for land improvement initiatives under our flagship $500 million Land Restoration Fund.
In conclusion, there is another question on everyone’s mind – what about a Queensland Olympics?
Well, we have a firm eye on the future for the entire state and that is why we are even considering a 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
These games must be inclusive of Queensland, not just the South-East.
Everyone must have the chance to share the pride and the benefits.
That’s my first pre-condition.
The second is that the benefits outweigh the costs.
The signs are good.
Under the International Olympic Committee’s ‘New Norms’ there are no white elephants built just for the games and the IOC contributes to the cost.
Just the hope of hosting the games already has all sides of politics and all levels of government co-operating.
If we can harness that co-operation to get much-needed infrastructure and investment off drawing boards and into our lives sooner then I am all for it.
It isn’t about a few weeks of competition.
It’s about a decade of accelerated investment and the jobs that come with that investment not to mention the lasting legacy of the things we build.
As some industry leaders have said, hosting the Olympics would provide Queensland with a decade of preparation and a decade of celebration after.
As always I am keen to hear what Queenslanders think.
I encourage everyone to reach out via their local newspapers and radio stations and social media.
This is something we have to share right from the beginning.
As I said at the outset, the map of 1920 Queensland is very different to the map of 2020 Queensland – if we are to secure the Olympic Games, the map of 2032 will show Brisbane as a world city.
We live in the most decentralised state of Australia.
It’s critical that any government of any persuasion understands that and plans for that.
We live in a resource-rich state, a state where our exports go to the world.
It’s vital that every Queenslander is a beneficiary of that.
We live in a state where our population – currently at 5.1 million – continues to rapidly increase and we must plan so that each existing Queenslander and every future Queenslander is able to enjoy the lifestyle they expect and deserve and no one Queenslander is left behind.
My government recognises and understands each of those key facts.
We have acted – and will continue to act – with those key facts at the forefront of our mind.
As we approach 2020 and the dawn of a new decade, we are heading toward a new age and we have ensured we are ready for that new age.
As I said at the outset, the 1920s were a time of transformation for Queensland …. But in 1920 not even the most visionary of people would have imagined the Queensland of 100 years into the future.
The state of our state, ladies and gentlemen, is a story of prosperity and growth and safe and diligent planning for the prosperity of today and the continued growth of our future and it’s been a privilege to have been able to share that story with you today.
Queensland – I believe our best times are ahead of us.
Media contact: Chris Taylor – 0400 990 162