I visited my hometown of Townsville last week to participate in an Economic Society of Australia (Qld) seminar on regional economies in a digitised and globalised world. The seminar feature presentations by James Cook University Associate Professor Riccardo Welters (Regional economies and automation) and well-known Townsville economist and NQ state advocate Colin Dwyer of DS Economics. I am grateful to Colin for the following summary of his presentation. These are Colin’s views and should not necessarily be attributed to me. For my own views, see this ABC News article. GT
New State Pre-Feasibility Test
Colin Dwyer, DS Economics
At the inaugural Australian Economic Society seminar in Townsville, the first of its kind in a regional location, Founder of Our Fair Share Colin Dwyer told a strong audience that for regions to adapt meant to remain technology takers, but to prosper (politically, economically, socially, technologically environmentally and legislatively) regions need to be technology producers. In order to do that we need to encourage entrepreneurs better than we are, and in North Queensland’s case it needs to own its destiny.
Founder of Our Fair Share Mr Dwyer said around a century ago regions had more population than cities. Technology, supply chain efficiencies, migration, entrepreneurs and legislation changed that equation to benefit cities. Now we have global cities that complete with other global cities and with further digitization regions need to find ways to have their contribution recognized or be ignored.
Prospering in today’s globalized economy means being technology adapters but also technology providers, encouraging entrepreneurs and owning your destiny are important elements in regional futures.
Mr Dwyer, the Our Fair Share founder, said “Regions don’t encourage entrepreneurs well enough. We don’t help them identify opportunities. We don’t give them incentives to have a go. We need to change that mind set and develop ways of supporting and attracting entrepreneurs, while regulating their activities for a net social and environmental benefit.”
Mr Dwyer said that while Brisbane owned the legislation and economic purse strings distant regions would be adapters rather than innovators. He presented a formula ‘Dwyer’s new state test’ that supported sections 121-124 of the Australian Constitution. It is a pre-due diligence test that involved appraisals of population*, economic activity, social assets, common interest, distance from existing capital, risk assessment and precautionary test.
The Our Fair Share founder presented information that rejected the old North Queensland as viable for further due diligence but presented his 5 statistical division model that complied with the Dwyer new state test.
In the New NQ presentation Mr Dwyer completed analysis from his New State test and a comprehensive New NQ state budget, which found New NQ would have a surplus of
$3 billion. He then discussed opportunities to support entrepreneurs, mining company head office moves from global cities, improved transport, health and education options.
Mr Dwyer said North Queensland needs to write its own story. If you let others do this, they will get it wrong. We care about the future of our places, there’s more comprehensive work that’s required and we need an NQ institute to prosecute sections 121-124 and own our future.
The New State pre-feasibility test has foundation in the royal commission into northern NSW becoming a new state. The referendum was held in 1967. It was unsuccessful, some say due to positioning of the boundary and consequential community of interest.
* In his presentation, Colin noted one million people would be a good benchmark for a new state. By Colin’s definition of NQ, which also includes central Queensland, and importantly for his budget numbers much of the Bowen basin and its lucrative coal mines, NQ’s current population is over 900,000 people. GT
View from Castle Hill, Townsville; photo by Jennifer Tunny. The distinctive “Sugar shaker” building, formerly the Hotel Townsville but now the Grand Chancellor, is in the centre of the photo.