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Stronger Together: Planning for a Decentralised State

Stronger Together: Planning for a Decentralised State

While Australia remains a highly urbanised nation – with two in three people living in its greater capital cities in 2021 – Queensland is still mainland Australia’s most decentralised state or territory, with more people living outside Greater Brisbane than within it.

With 2.62 million Queenslanders calling areas outside our capital home, what does this mean for how our department plans for the growth of liveable communities and the industries and infrastructure that supports them?

A decentralised state offers both unique challenges and opportunities, and we’re proactively addressing both through the 2022 State Infrastructure Strategy, setting clear objectives around connecting Queensland’s regions digitally and physically to ensure families, communities and businesses can live, work and socialise across often vast distances.

Bridging the digital divide

One core strategy is improving state-wide connectivity in partnership with the Australian Government and telecommunication providers, setting out the steps the Queensland Government will take to achieve better digital outcomes for Queenslanders.

Further priority actions outline opportunities to develop Queensland’s digital infrastructure including three key initiatives:

  • Exploring opportunities to improve connectivity in regional and remote Queensland, including driving a more competitive market
  • Developing a 10-year Digital Infrastructure Plan
  • Improving our emergency telecommunication facilities

Case study: Queensland Capacity Network

Along with its 13,000 km fibre network, Queensland Capacity Network (QCN) - the state government's telecommunications carrier – recently expanded its access to 20,000 tower and colocation (hardware and equipment storage) facilities across Queensland.

This key expansion offers improved backhaul connection (moving large volumes of data between locations) across the state, supporting more cost-effective market expansion for Internet Service Providers delivering digital and data services into regional Queensland.

More competition in regional telecommunications will improve access to essential online services such as telehealth, e-commerce, online education and training, along with cloud-based solutions for AgTech, air, maritime and emergency services.

This development aligns with a priority action in our State Infrastructure Strategy to improve the wholesale backhaul market in Queensland, and work with retail service providers to pass on the benefits of government-owned fibre to Queenslanders and Queensland businesses.

Place-based infrastructure

Our highly decentralised state means each region has a distinctive character with diverse economies and lifestyles. As such, a key element of the SIS is a development and delivery of seven Regional Infrastructure Plans, taking a place-based approach recognising each region’s unique economic and social priorities for growth and liveability and associated enabling infrastructure priorities.

A place-based approach to infrastructure means we meet the needs of communities, supporting our diverse population and economies, and helping close the gap on cultural disadvantage.

By delivering the right infrastructure in the right place we can help all Queenslanders access world-class health, education and training, housing and other community services to make our state even more liveable.

Pieces of the puzzle

There are many advantages of being a decentralised state, the most important of which being the role our regional centres play in powering robust, competitive and diverse economic development.

Each of Queensland’s regions are key locations for our priority and emerging industry sectors, including Renewable Energy, Critical Minerals, Green Hydrogen, Resource Recovery and Biofuels.

Queensland’s Wide Bay region

Queensland’s Wide Bay region is charging ahead as a battery hub thanks to a $700 million manufacturing facility being built in Maryborough.

Our regions are also the heart of the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan (QEJP), a $62 billion investment delivering a renewable revolution in Queensland’s energy production, storage and distribution, creating the renewable energy capital of the world.

Crucially, 95 per cent of investment from the QEJP will be in Queensland's regions, and will create new internationally competitive manufacturing precincts in Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Bundaberg, Maryborough and Toowoomba, delivering thousands of new clean energy jobs across the state.

Global uncertainties around health, climate and security have increased the importance of domestic supply chains and a robust defence ecosystem: both areas where Queensland’s regions continue to play a vital part.

Queensland is home to more than 40 per cent of Australian army personnel as well as a large percentage of defence vehicles, with Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton, Bundaberg and Gladstone all supporting a significant Defence presence or providing port and freight access.

Companies including Thales, Cubic, Flying Colours, TEi Services, RGM Maintenance, J3 Seven, Austal, Norship, and Tropical Reef Shipyard support this strong and geographically dispersed military presence.

In addition, NORSTA  will be operating Navy’s first Regional Maintenance Centre (RMC North East) in Cairns that will support the Evolved Cape Class Patrol Boats initially and eventually become the sustainment hub for the Arafura class offshore patrol vessels when they enter service.

Through the $3.34 billion Queensland Jobs Fund, we continue to bring together the Queensland Government’s current flagship industry development programs to boost the state’s industry footprint, create jobs and strengthen Queensland’s economy, including Regional Manufacturing Hubs.

A decentralised state is a strong state, and we will continue to support all Queenslanders wherever they live through our core operations, and directly through our network of 11 regional offices providing strategic support and regional development services throughout Queensland.

Last updated: 22 May 2023