Bishop blesses plan for a northern state
THE Far North's Catholic Bishop has voiced his support for a breakaway North Queensland state - offering up a throne and possible parliament chamber in Cairns.
Bishop James Foley believes the throne, currently in his Cairns residence, would make an ideal Speaker's chair.
He agreed with a suggestion by Australians for Constitutional Monarchy leader, Professor David Flint, that Cairns Masonic Hall in Minnie St could house a North Queensland Parliament.
"Brisbane is closer to Melbourne than it is to Cairns. We need several smaller states," Bishop Foley said.
"I have always felt our states are too big to adequately represent the needs of people."
Although Bishop Foley comes from Brisbane, he took up an appointment in the Far North in 1992 and considers himself a true North Queenslander. He has oversight of 27 schools, two hospitals and numerous aged-care facilities in 23 parishes from Cardwell in the south to the Torres Strait in the north.
"I am flat out keeping an eye on or having a feel for what we should be doing in those places," he said.
"I have often thought how a premier in Brisbane or a minister for health or education could possibly have that same feel or eye for what is happening."
Bishop Foley told the Cairns Post he had not previously considered the idea of a separate state, but indicated the offer of the throne was a playful way of showing his support for North Queensland.
He would not, however, be drawn on the capital city for a separate state.
Unlike Prof Flint, who suggested Cowboys legend Johnathan Thurston should be the first North Queensland Governor, Bishop Foley put forward the name of the Far North's favourite son from Innisfail, Billy Slater.
"I think Billy Slater would do well on the North Queensland throne," he said.
A tale of two thrones
THE seat in question is a replica throne which saw service in Cairns from 1927-41.
It was built to replace the existing chair, which was moved to be used by St Mary's Church in Cooktown.
Due to fears over the advance of Japanese forces during World War II, the contents of St Mary's Church was moved back to Cairns for safe keeping.
With two thrones in Cairns in 1941, one was retired to the Bishop's residence near St Monica's Cathedral.