Queensland Labor has once again shown its lack of support for environmentally friendly manufacturing outside of Brisbane. This has raised concerns among many who believe that the government should be doing more to promote sustainable industries throughout the state. State Member for Hill, Shane Knuth, recently criticized the government for denying a funding application for KoolPak, a locally designed packaging system that promotes the circular economy.
KoolPak, created by Innisfail local Tom Long, offers a reusable, recyclable, flat packable, leakproof, and traceable packing solution for temperature-sensitive products. It aims to replace polystyrene containers, which are known for their negative environmental impact. It is estimated that over 1 billion polystyrene boxes are used worldwide each year, making KoolPak’s potential environmental benefits significant.
Furthermore, KoolPak presents a lucrative business opportunity for the region. The product has received overwhelming interest, and its owners want to establish a manufacturing plant in Innisfail. This would not only create jobs but also contribute to the local economy by generating direct output and industry value. However, the State Government’s Industry Partnership Program (IPP) rejected the $10 million funding proposal, putting the project at risk.
Shane Knuth expressed his disappointment with the government’s decision, noting that the Premier’s recent statements praising Queensland manufacturers contradicted the rejection of KoolPak’s funding. The manufacturing industry has been thriving with government support, and Knuth believes that KoolPak could have been another success story, generating millions of dollars in output and industry value annually.
Knuth also criticized the government’s priorities, highlighting the significant investments made in projects in the southeast corner of Queensland and the wasteful Olympic expenditure. He questioned why the government couldn’t allocate a relatively small amount of funding to an innovative manufacturing hub that could revolutionize the storage and transportation of temperature-sensitive food globally. This decision was seen as neglecting the needs and potential of regional Queensland, reinforcing the sentiment that only the southeast corner matters to the government.
The KoolPak project had the support of the local council, the community, and Federal Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter. Katter, known for his advocacy for regional development, expressed his disappointment with the Queensland Government’s lack of investment in the north. He criticized the government’s focus on appeasing certain groups instead of supporting projects that could have a positive economic impact.
There are concerns that if the State Government doesn’t reconsider its decision, KoolPak may choose to establish its manufacturing operations overseas. Countries like Thailand are already interested in investing in the technology, which would be a loss for Australia and regional Queensland in particular.
It is evident that the current government’s lack of support for regional manufacturing is a significant concern. The denial of the KoolPak funding proposal highlights the need for a more balanced approach that prioritizes environmental sustainability and economic growth throughout the state. While the Liberal National Party is expected to replace the Labor government, there are doubts about whether their approach would be any different.
The future of KoolPak hangs in the balance, and many hope that the State Government will reconsider its decision and provide the necessary support for this innovative and environmentally friendly manufacturing project. Only time will tell if regional Queensland will receive the attention and investment it deserves.