Thursday, May 13, 2010

North Queensland demands self government

I see that the North Queensland Local Government Association in conjunction with the Western Queensland Local Government Association has launched a campaign for separation and self government for North Queensland. While the motion was passed, several delegates at the NQLGA meeting spoke against the motion, with a common theme being more detail was needed to give the idea credibility.

It's interesting to look at the North Queensland resolution in a historical context.

Within Australia's existing constitutional entities, there have been four areas that have consistently and persistently argued for statehood. They are Riverina and New England in NSW, Central and North Queensland in Queensland. Each has common features: they are big areas with a common sense of self-identity who feel that existing constitutional structures disadvantage them.

I can understand why some delegates at the NQLGA meeting suggested that more detail was required to give the idea credibility. It's not that the information and arguments are not there. It's just that all the detail of past arguments has been lost in historical terms.

I think of part of my role as recovering our shared past. Whether one supports new states or not, we should not lose sight of our own shared histories.

In fighting for what is now James Cook University, the local university movement drew not just from North Queensland's sense of identity, but also from the success of the equivalent movement in New England.

That's the measure of success, the way in which collective action can achieve things despite the institutional barriers.    

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