Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Debate for Splitting the State Intensifies; One Man Is Not Giving Up on His Dream to See Queensland Become Two States

Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Debate for Splitting the State Intensifies; One Man Is Not Giving Up on His Dream to See Queensland Become Two States

Article excerpt

Byline: Leighton Smith Leighton.Smith@capnews.com.au

THERE are plenty of reasons why people like Bill Bates have been agitating since the 1800s for Queensland to be split into two separate states.

Mr Bates believes regional Queenslanders are concerned by their lack of appropriate representation at the state and federal levels of government and many feel like the wealth gathered North of the Tropic of Capricorn was largely spent in the Southeast corner of the state.

This regional dissatisfaction was reflected in recent state election results with a swing away from the major parties and towards protest party One Nation, who was perceived to be more in touch with regional concerns.

"Unless you've been living under a rock, I think one of the most prominent comments from people and leaders of regional Queensland is that they're not getting a fair deal from the Southeast," Mr Bates said.

"We've got to fight tooth and nail to get basic infrastructure, yet they can readily find $2b for an entertainment precinct.

"But we can't get a road, a dam or any other essential infrastructure."

He said by breaking away, politicians would vote for North Queensland issues and represent North Queenslanders.

"Cairns wouldn't have to wait years for some dredging, Rockhampton wouldn't have to wait years for a levee wall," he said.

The Cairns-based self-funded retiree busily criss-crossed regional Queensland in the second half of 2017 in his car to drum up support for the state to be split in half north of Gympie.

With the lofty ambition of obtaining at least 200,000 signatures over six months to provoke State Parliament to bring about a referendum, Mr Bates only managed to secure the signatures of 629 Queensland residents on his petition.

"It was a very poor return for driving some 8000km, doing some 19 regional newspaper interviews from Weipa to Brisbane, Townsville to Mount Isa and numerous townships in between," Mr Bates said.

"However, I enjoyed the experience and accumulated a lot of information and understanding of our regional leadership.

"I would like to thank you all for giving your valuable time to listen to my details regarding the petition and especially those who threw their support behind it. …

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