State government should decentralise departments: Katter

Robbie Katter.
Robbie Katter.

Robbie Katter has called on the Palaszczuk Government to decentralise its Brisbane-based public service.

Mr Katter said the move away from the "Brisbane behemoth" would reduce red tape, stimulate regional economies and help mitigate the divide between the capital and the rest of the state.

More than half of state's government jobs are based in the south-east corner and Mr Katter said the COVID-19 crisis had highlighted the pitfalls of centralisation.

"There was an important omission in the debate the state government had last week on COVID-19, and that is to respond to the call from the Federal Labor Leader this week to engage in a policy of de-centralisation," Mr Katter said.

"COVID-19 has shown us there is benefits in having that separation of services; where it exists already it has helped us get through this time and it has also proved to be key to stimulating regional economies in our economic 'fight-back'.

"We should be seeing these government departments moving out to the regions, and the process of centralisation that has crept up on us for decades needs to stop."

Mr Katter was responding to federal opposition leader Anthony Albanese's call to take advantage of a "once in a century" moment to overhaul the national economy and future through de-centralisation.

Mr Albanese said an "appropriate decentralisation strategy" would boost regional economic development and take pressure off the capital cities, and should "be at the heart" of national economic development.

"We can start by restoring public sector jobs in areas like Centrelink, Medicare and [Department of] Veterans' Affairs, that deliver services to those regional communities," Mr Albanese said.

"The contracting out of essential public services is not in the national interest and must stop.

"It's time to put human beings and human dignity back in to human services."

Mr Katter said State Labor should respond to Mr Albanese's clear message.

"A major virtue would be that having the departments, or sections of the departments, in the regions would mean the public will deal directly with people who are embedded in their area and who know local issues firsthand," he said.

"Untold problems are caused when government decision-making gets lumped on some bureaucrat located thousands of kilometres away.

"This situation is why you always get so much backlash from places like North Queensland where decisions are often made against them in the negative, because they feel removed from the government processes around topics that directly impact them."

Mr Katter called for sections of the mining, agriculture and fisheries departments to be relocated to Mount Isa/Mackay, Townsville and Cairns respectively.

"The key point to acknowledge is what we are calling for has been happening gradually in the reverse for many years; for example, years ago the Department of Mines ceased its operations in Mount Isa," he said.

"This has happened time again across regional Queensland to the point we have an extremely centralised and at times, very out-of-touch, public sector designing Queensland's future with little understanding of life outside of the south-east."

This story State government should decentralise departments: Katter first appeared on The North West Star.