matt canavanThe recently-installed Minister for Northern Australia Matt Canavan has endorsed a referendum on the creation of a seventh Australian state by splitting Queensland in two, arguing the proposal has “merit” and should be put to the people.

I firmly believe that we are already over-governed. If anyone tells me the answer is more politicians, I question the question.

Weighing in to a debate that is as old as the hills, the new frontbencher said statehood for northern Queensland could benefit the region economically and would align with the conservative inclination to localised government.

“I have expressed support for it before. It has merit because it’s a big country,” Senator Canavan told ABC’s Radio National.

“I think if the founding fathers were still here, 115 years on from Federation, they’d be a bit surprised that we haven’t created new states. There are provisions in the constitution to do that – we haven’t used those provisions though we’ve tried before.”

In 1967, a referendum on statehood for the New England region of NSW was defeated with a “no” vote of 54 per cent. A “split” Queensland is also thought to lack popular support, but is regularly pushed by northern MPs ahead of federal elections.

Mr Frydenberg, who is also the minister responsible for northern Australia, said he agreed with comments made by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk that Queensland was “stronger as a whole”.

Senator Canavan said that depending on where the boundary was drawn, northern Queensland’s population was about one million – or double the size of Tasmania.

“That’s a lot of people to govern from a small corner of the south east of Queensland, often more than 1000 kilometres away,” he said. To read more click here.

The Developing Northern Australia Conference Above the Line – unleashing the north’s potential will be held on 20-22 June 2016 at Darwin Convention Centre.

The Conference continues the dialogue started in 2015 following the release of the Australian Government’s White Paper on Developing Northern Australia. To register your attendance at the conference CLICK HERE.  Early bird registrations close 6 May 2016, so be quick to receive a discounted rate.