Annastacia Palaszczuk, 06 November 2015

I LEAD a government that’s determined to position Queensland as a world leader in opening new doors to create new industries and welcome new investment.

A Labor government created a $60 billion LNG industry – a new frontier for Queensland – and my Government will lead the way in developing and nurturing further new industry.

We are determined to harness our best and brightest minds to take Queensland to the world. We are determined to develop a biofuels industry.

But from the outset, let me assure you – my Government is proudly pro-business. Our doors will always be open to business.

Queensland and northern Queensland are in transition at a pivotal point in our development. Our prosperity can no longer rely solely on our miners and farmers.

While their endeavours will always be mainstays of our state’s wealth, we must accept that change is coming in every field of endeavour.

We must supercharge our efforts to broaden our trade and investment relationships to new levels.

Where better to start than here in northern Queensland – a dynamic region that so embodies the growing sense of community we share with our Asian neighbours. If you want to invest in northern Australia, Queensland is the place to start.

We have a shared time zone with most of our partners. We have a highly competitive taxation environment. We also have the lowest payroll tax rate in mainland Australia. We have a resilient, highly skilled workforce, and we boast leading educational research facilities.

And we are blessed with abundant natural resources, fertile land, and a well-earned reputation as a clean, green and reliable producer of high-value agricultural produce.

The new free-trade agreements – given their potential tariff reductions – will ensure we remain a competitive supplier of agricultural products.

Benefits from the FTAs are expected to embrace value-added services and manufacturing – along with our knowledge and technical skills in developing farming equipment, mining technology, food production and services. And while we build on our traditional strengths, it is imperative we diversify into high-growth sectors.

I’m determined to see a biofuels industry start here in Queensland. I can confidently say a Queensland biofuels industry has the potential to be our next LNG. A joint Deloitte Access Economics and Queensland University of Technology study projected that by 2035, industrial bioproducts, such as fuels, chemicals and plastics, could contribute $1.8 billion to our annual gross state product, resulting in well over 6500 full-time jobs.

I’ve spoken before about the interest from the US Navy powering its Pacific fleet with northern Queensland biofuels. Now one of the world’s biggest companies, Asahi, is involved as well. Asahi has patented a more efficient sugarcane process that aims to increase the yield of both sugar and ethanol.
The Japanese conglomerate is now joining forces with the Queensland University of Technology and the biofuel plant in Mackay to progress that technology towards commercialisation. Opportunities will be created based on new crops and intensive production systems, such as algae. We must turn these opportunities into sustainable products, profits and jobs.

A range of other materials that currently have limited commercial value, such as forestry and municipal waste, also have potential as feedstock for renewable fuel, plastics, feedstocks, cosmetics, chemicals, and other bioproducts.

One of the centrepieces of our first Budget – one I’m very passionate about – is our $180 million Advance Queensland initiative. Advance Queensland is an investment in innovation, skills education, business development and the encouragement of a start-up culture to deliver jobs of the future.

Queensland has world-recognised expertise in areas such as medical science, biotechnology, robotics and tropics-related fields.

We want to leverage that expertise through a direct investment in science and innovation.

It is evident that business and government must work collaboratively to establish a much-needed, mature venture-capital market for start-ups in Australia.

Through Advance Queensland, we have established our own Business Development Fund, a $40 million investment to kickstart our new wave of start-ups.

We will co-invest with industry on the advice of some of the state’s best and brightest minds – up to $2.5 million if the business idea is the right idea. That’s indicative of the confidence we have in Queensland’s emerging businesses.

It’s not just about the short-term shot of seed capital – the Business Development Fund is about growing a pool of angel investors. If we can show that our best ideas, our best innovations, our best discoveries are business-worthy, that investment pool will grow. And that is why government is stepping in. We want to lead the way.

This is an edited extract of a speech by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to the Northern Queensland Economic Summit 2015

Extracted in full from the Courier Mail.