Queensland’s government wants to double the population outside the state’s south-east corner as part of its 30-year plan.
A 30-year plan for Queensland aims to close the gap with indigenous people, double the regional population and boost child literacy rates.
Premier Campbell Newman has called it an “aspirational document”, saying 80,000 Queenslanders contributed to the report, launched on Thursday after almost 18 months in the making.
No money has been set aside, but legislation endorsing it will be introduced.
Mr Newman was hopeful future governments would support and implement the 2044 targets, which include ensuring all primary school children have basic literacy and numeracy, and doubling the population outside south-east Queensland.
“You double the population by building up those communities in health and infrastructure and making them attractive to people,” he told reporters in Hervey Bay.
Encouraging more immigrants to the regions, shifting some government agencies and boosting Defence force units in the state would help meet the goal, the premier said.
He hasn’t set any timeline for shifting agencies but says this would be included in future policies.
Mount Isa MP Robbie Katter welcomed the plan, but says policies that discouraged people from the regions would need to be reversed.
“I’ve been fighting against the year 7 transition into high school campuses because a lot of towns in my electorate don’t have a high school,” the Katter’s Australian Party member said.
“You get less people in your town because you’ve got less kids at the school.”
Whitsunday Regional Council mayor Jennifer Whitney is confident her area has the jobs, housing and infrastructure to support a bigger population.
The plan also says the state would be a “world leader” in environmental protection, but the Australian Marine Conservation Society says it fails to set out a credible blueprint to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
The Queensland Resources Council says that sector would play an important role in boosting regional economies.
Another target includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and regional residents having the same life expectancy as other Queenslanders.
Australian Medical Association Queensland president Shaun Rudd welcomed this target but warned it would be a “very, very difficult”.
“This will have to be done in small steps and slowly but surely we’ll get there,” Dr Rudd told AAP.
Queensland Labor frontbencher Jo-Ann Miller said the plan was full of “motherhood statements”, adding that the Liberal National Party followed Labor on wanting to close the gap with indigenous Australians.
Queensland’s population is expected to jump from 4.7 million to 8 million by 2044.