Written on the 22 October 2015 by Jenna Rathbone


PREMIER Annastacia Palaszczuk admits she is taking a risk by investing $40 million into establishing a flourishing start-up culture in Queensland, but she says it is a risk she is willing to take.

The Premier's business development fund is set to inject the funds into start-ups, entrepreneurship and innovation in Queensland with the aim of turning great ideas into commercial realities.

Palaszczuk says under the scheme, the Queensland Government will provide matching investment contributions ranging from $125,000 up to $2.5 million, alongside venture capitalists. 

"We have a board of people who have experience as venture capitalists and we are attracting interest from people all around the world to be part of this panel," says Palaszczuk.

"Once an idea is ticked off, the government will actually match that funding."

Palaszczuk says it is a priority of the government to foster and grow young talent.

"And people have asked 'are you taking a risk?' and yes, we are taking a risk on ourselves," she says.

"But out of that $40 million we may see brand new industries created here on the Gold Coast or in other parts of Queensland that will actually generate new industries.  And when you create new industries, you actually create new jobs.

"If we can have a start-up culture where we are fostering new ideas in this state, we can be world leaders."

Speaking at a Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce event, the Premier also discussed what the state government is doing to grow tourism on the Gold Coast, and in Queensland.

In a room full of industry leaders, developers and politicians, the Premier highlighted the importance of Chinese tourism, with the number of tourists coming from China in the next five years expected to double.

"We have already started to see the direct flights coming in from Wuhan and in the next couple of weeks I am sending my Tourism Minister back to China for a very important reason," says Palaszczuk.

"We are trying to make sure that we can get direct flights from Shanghai.  At this stage they will be going into Brisbane but there will be Chinese tourists wanting to come down to the Gold Coast so you will be able to capitalise on that."

The Premier has urged Gold Coast tourism operators to pick up their game if they want to capture this influx of Chinese travellers.

"The other thing I have heard very loud and clear, for the tourism operators, is that the Chinese want to have a 'whole experience' when they come to the Gold Coast," says Palaszczuk.

"It is not just the natural beauty, it is not just the beaches.  They want the food and wine experience and we know we have that on the Gold Coast but we need a different way of promoting that.

"I have asked my Tourism Minister and Tourism and Events Queensland to start coming up with some fresh ideas about how we can market from the Gold Coast into China and vice versa."

Another aim of the Premier is to grow the film and television industry on the Gold Coast.

Palaszczuk says she has met with the heads of Disney, Legendary and Marvel who have all expressed their interest in investing more in the city.  

"Over the last few years we have seen this emergence of a really strong movie industry," says Palaszczuk.

"But, what I want to see is a permanent movie industry here on the Gold Coast."

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has just announced that Australia secured an agreement with Marvel Studios and Disney, with Thor: Ragnarok to begin filming on the Gold Coast next year.

Q&A with Premier Palaszczuk:

Will there be a time for a cruise ship terminal on the Gold Coast and if so, when and where?

It is a very tough question.  I know that there are very passionate views for it, one way and the other.  We have been very clear that my government does not support it going at Wavebreak Island but if there are other options down the track, and I don't know where those options would be, then it would be for council and proponents to put them to the government.

Is your government open to the idea of revisiting a daylight saving time zone?

Maybe one day in the future there will be a discussion about it.  But during this term of government we will be focussing on uniting Queensland, not dividing Queensland.  So we will let it go for the time being. 

The Gold Coast has always felt it has played second fiddle to Brisbane when it comes to government decisions.  With connectivity between the Gold Coast and Brisbane significantly improving, when can we see a major government department located in the city, bringing with it much needed job stability?

What we have seen over the years, whether it is a Labor Government or the former government, is there was investment that was always happening on the Gold Coast.  In relation to government departments, I am happy to have a look at that further. 

Close to 8000 lawbreakers have been charged with more than 11,000 offences by the Rapid Action and Patrols Taskforce since its establishment - does the government support the existence of the RAP squad and do you plan to change the way it operates?  

We value the RAP squad that is down on the Gold Coast and I have always said that if the Police Commissioner says they need more police down here then I am more than happy to make sure that happens.  There is nothing more important than the safety of people on the Gold Coast so that will continue and if there are more resources that are needed we will speak to the Police Commissioner.

Is reducing trading hours for licensed venues a positive for the Surfers Paradise precinct, and do you feel that these changes will be seen as draconian and damage the precinct's reputation to both visitors and local visitation?

I think this is referring to our policy on curbing alcohol-fuelled violence and I know that this is an issue that is felt very deeply by different sectors of the community.  When I went into the election campaign, we spoke about reducing trading hours, so it would be a 1am lockout and 3am for last drinks. 

At the end of the day we have to think about safety and we also have to think about the toll it is taking on our ambulance officers and also our police officers.  When we have nights of alcohol-fuelled violence, police are injured, ambulance officers are injured and the people themselves are injured. 

One of the reasons my government took this view, and still has the same view, is because of Doctor Anthony Lynham.  He was a surgeon and he was a surgeon who used to put people's faces back together.  He was seen time and time again, in the early hours of the morning, people being presented to the hospital admissions, having to have their bodies basically put back together.  And he ended up saying to me, one day over coffee, I would like to be on your team. History shows that he did indeed run for Stafford, and now he is my State Development Minister. 

That is where our policy was formulated and at the end of the day it was about public safety first and foremost.  Parents want their kids to be safe, we want to have a vibrant nightlife and we want a great experience but we want a safe experience.  The evidence has shown that in other states, where they have actually reduced the hours, the levels of alcohol-fuelled violence has actually decreased.

Author: Jenna Rathbone
About: Jenna Rathbone is a Queensland-based journalist who writes on a range of issues including business and property affairs and social issues.
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