Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

What's Needed Is Bold, Aspirational Thinking

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

What's Needed Is Bold, Aspirational Thinking

Article excerpt

BERNARD

SALT

OPINION: In some ways, Mackay is the luckiest city in the luckiest country. And the reason why I say this is because of the city's geography.

Mackay sits on a pivot between the black coal reserves of the Bowen Basin and the insatiable energy markets of China and beyond.

And yet as recently as a generation ago Mackay probably regarded itself as a sugar town reorientating towards tourism and lifestyle.

Both agribusiness and tourism are still important to the region, but it was the liberalisation of China's economy in the 1980s that changed the trajectory and the destiny of Mackay.

My point is that you can have incredible plans for the future of an Australian city and region, but such plans can be superseded by a single political shift in a country with which we trade.

Australia is now, and will forever remain, a country whose prosperity is largely determined by our relationship with others.

If there is one skill that we Australians need to be good at, it's international diplomacy.

The Mackay Region including Whitsunday and Isaac contains almost 180,000 residents, up 28,000 over 13 years.

It was recently projected to add a further 25,000 by 2030.

It could be said that Greater Mackay contains about the same number of people as does urban Townsville.

It could also be said that whatever infrastructure and services Townsville has, Mackay should be looking to acquire.

The numbers aren't strictly comparable since urban Townsville also services a vast region, but I think the principle of benchmarking Mackay with a slightly-bigger city is nevertheless useful.

Could it be that Mackay will be a city and region of 250,000 by the middle of the century? Perhaps China will be joined by India as yet another insatiable market for Australian resources and agribusiness commodities in the 21st century? …

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