Ahead of a political debate sponsored by The Courier-Mail in Queensland, leaders in the Australian state have laid out their vision for the coming years.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, who also leads the Labor Party in the state, said the focus of the state would be education in a bid to further improve the region. She attributed to major improvements in education the increase to 21 per cent of residents having at least a bachelor's degree, up from 13 per cent in 1997.
She also pointed out that Queensland has the higher scientists and researchers per capita compared to other Australian states. Ms Bligh added that to further boost education in Queensland, the state has added Prep into the curriculum and moved Year 7 to high school.
Beyond education, Queensland is on the edge of a major chapter in the state's history as it rides out the resource boom throughout Australia. She said that because of the energy boom, gas companies are investing $45 billion in three projects in the state that would lead to its export of cleaner and greener fuel in the form of liquefied natural gas ( LNG ).
The premier, who once was the education minister, announced the establishment of the Queensland Education Trust which would dedicate 50 per cent of all LNG royalties into the trust. Ms Bligh estimated that in the next 10 years about $1.8 billion of LNG royalties would be put into the trust's coffers.
Part of the trust would be used to open an individual trust account for every newborn beginning July 2012 with a seed deposit of $500 and a contribution of $3,200 by the time the Queenslander tot reaches Prep. The trust could only be accessed by the child at the age of 18, which by then would have a value of almost $10,000.
"This would give tomorrow's Queenslanders a massive head start for their future training and education reducing HEC's debts, paying TAFE fees and funding equipment and tools for apprenticeships," Ms Bligh said.
LNP leader Campbell Newman painted a bleak picture of Queensland under the 20 years of Labor rule. He said Queensland's debt is almost $85 billion, which would cost the state $100 million weekly in interest payments alone.
He said the party's aim is to get Queensland back on track by restoring hope and opportunity, as well as the state's AAA credit rating.
For Mr Newman, the way to achieve that is to develop an economy built on tourism, resources, agriculture and construction instead of focusing solely on mining industry alone.
He also proposed to reduce the cost of living by freezing car registration on the family car for the first term of an LNP government and reform the water and electricity sectors to save Queensland families up to $330 annually.
"Labor has had 20 years and it's quite clear their best years are behind them. The LNP's best years, and Queensland's best years, are ahead of us," Mr Newman said.
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