It comes as a surprise to many southerners to learn that Brisbane is closer to Melbourne than it is to Cairns.

The disconnect between where we live and the policy direction being set in the capital cites is something that we in the regions have an obligation to keep an eye on. Increasingly, regions are living separately from the rest of the country. We just aren’t on the political radar.

Two-thirds of the Australian population live in five capital cities. That is, over 16 million of Australia’s total population, which recently hit 25 million people. Everything about the capital cities is different to where we live including the migrant mix, the natural environment, the nature of crime, access to services, housing affordability and much more.

Almost all of Australia’s legislation is created from within these capital cities. The physical, social and cultural differences between the seat of power and the regions is becoming increasingly lost. The pace of policy is such that Governments don’t have the time to get out and try to work out future directions with regional towns and communities. As a result, we find ourselves with a one-size-fits-all model.

The current system is simply inequitable and it not surprising that rural communities are being ‘hollowed out’. We in the regions are best placed to know our own interests. Regions that lead their own development do better than those that rely on governments based far outside the region.

While Bob Katter’s call to seceed from the south and create our own North Queensland state may seem extreme, there is some merit in taking control of our political destiny. Perhaps it is time to speak up - to politicians. The question is, are we as a city and as a region clear on what we want?

Published in Issue 14 / Tropic Magazine