Bligh calls for more optimism

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has called for less pessimism and more optimism about the economy from Australia’s politicians.

“We are better placed than just about any other country on earth at the moment, but I don’t think that is how Australians feel,” she said yesterday.

Australians were at risk of falling into a self-defeating mood, Ms Bligh told the Queensland Media Club.

“You are not going to see either side of politics stop doing a critique of each other, and nor would you want to,” she said. “I think it is an important part of public life and public debate – we disagree on issues, and we air those disagreements and that is not going to stop.

“But I think it needs to be done in a way that does not entrench a public mood that believes we are no longer a country that can do great things.”

Ms Bligh said there were some things to be concerned about.

“But, I have to say if I looked at the global uncertainty again and thought gee, where would you rather be facing all of that? I’d rather be in Brisbane than in London, I’d rather be anywhere in Queensland than most of the places in the United States at the moment, and that should give us confidence about where we go next,” she said.

On the contentious issue of the clash between some farmers and the coal seam gas industry Ms Bligh said several areas like Cairns and Hervey Bay still had high unemployment.

“How close and far should they be from agriculture? How do these two important and big industries co-exist and how can they in some cases be co-located?” she said.

“We have currently out for consultation legislation to protect what we are calling strategic cropping land, that is the best of the best in our agricultural sector, and those areas have been identified as the golden triangle out west from Rockhampton and a little bit south and out in the Surrat Basin, she said.

The Surat Basin is a part of the Great Artesian Basin and extends across more than 250,000 square kilometres across northern New South Wales and Queensland.

“That will be the first time in Australia that high value agriculture will be protected,” she said.

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