Future North sets out the game plan to kick-start investment in a region that holds enormous promise

Unlocking North Queensland’s potential

Despite an abundance of “fantastic economic opportunities in North Queensland” the region struggles to attract capital. But if Oliver Yates has anything to do with it, more than 30 projects could be developed that would create 8000 jobs and long-term economic stability. He is calling for a state owned NQDC – North Queensland Development Corporation – to unlock $15 billion in capital investment in the region.

Speaking at this week’s Smart Energy conference in Brisbane the Director of Bronze Boar Investments said “What I have found is that securing capital support (for projects other than renewables) is at best complex and at worst close to impossible.

“I’ve had a fair bit to do with North Queensland during the past 10 years and it’s always struck me how big are the opportunities that exist there – few places in the world exist with such resources and within a geopolitical stable environment.

“North Queensland is blessed with world class renewable energy resources and world leading mineral resources, as well as natural beauty but there are a lot of underutilised resources from natural resources to infrastructure and the people.“There is no reason why North Queensland cannot be a highly sustainable and strong prosperous region but we need to face facts: the region is too far from financial hubs in capital centres – people making the decisions are generally two to four hours flight away.

“Although global capital is available in abundance, North Queensland struggles to attract capital,” he said “It’s time we supported the region…  barriers need to be removed, the region needs to be less dependent on minerals or agricultural resources and there are real opportunities to rapidly accelerate investment in the region.”

The report Future North maps out the pathway to a strong economy moving forward and sets out goals and targets for the region. Oliver Yates drafted the paper in 2017, around the time he was stepping down as CEFC chief executive.

“Many of the projects then were based around renewables but there were also lots of other projects, and since then many renewable energy projects have been concluded – often with assistance from the federal or state government – but most of the non-renewables projects have not progressed and that is because they lacked the necessary government support and financial assistance,” he said.

“They remain good projects that would generate lots of long-term jobs and put Queensland in the box seat as a low cost producer and exporter of energy, fuels, food and biofuel.”

Oliver presented a slide identifying the range and scope of projects that would be created from capital investment of $15 billion, generating several thousand jobs (see Smart Energy Council website in due course for the full report). He has already discussed details with developers.

“It’s time things changed,” he told the Smart Energy assembly, “And to build a strong and diversified economy in North Queensland you need diversified government support and programs.

“Governments have a real role to play in regions.

“It’s time to move our headspace – we are wasting our time talking about the problems of the region, the transition must get underway … all it needs is a specialised financial team, a state owned NQDC – North Queensland Development Corporation – that can also attract other financial institutions and trigger private sector investment in the region.

“The opportunities are great, and of great value to Australia.”

He concluded his Smart Energy address declaring Australia could be 500 per cent renewables “because we can export so much”.

That sounds to us like a wonderful vision. Let’s turn it into reality.