Campaign to split state fails but Bill's not giving up yet
DESPITE a state election showing a significant divide between Brisbane and regional Queensland, a petitioner's crusade to split the state has failed spectacularly.
Cairns man Bill Bates travelled across Queensland before the state election, at his own expense, calling for a referendum to see if there was at least interest in his proposal.
Mr Bates wanted a new state with the demarcation line cutting through just north of Gympie.
The catalyst for Mr Bates's petition was the news that the Queensland Parliament was increasing from 89 to 93 seats and all four additional seats were in southeast Queensland.
"Now 75 per cent of the members of the Queensland Parliament are beholden to the interests of voters who have no affinity with regional Queensland," he told the NewsMail in October.
"If regional Queensland had 12 senators it would have more of a say in Canberra where much of the money comes from."
Unfortunately, only 629 people signed the e-petition, well short of the 10,000 needed to spark parliamentary debate.
"With only 629 residents joining the petition it was a very poor return for driving some 8000kms, doing some 19 regional newspaper interviews from Weipa to Brisbane, Townsville to Mount Isa and numerous townships in between," Mr Bates said in a statement.
"However, I enjoyed the experience and accumulated a lot of information and understanding of our regional leadership."
But all hope is not lost for Mr Bates.
With a growing rift between the Nationals and the Liberals, Mr Bates believes his quest is far from over.
Mr Bates has procured the domain name www.bootbrisbane.com and will relaunch his campaign next year, if he can raise a small grassroots army to propagate his message.
"While the number of petitioners is insufficient to ensure the petition will be dated in Parliament it is encouraging that since the recent election there has been more vocalisation for a new state," he said.