Council Highlights Key Regional Issues to Federal Minister
Southern Downs Regional Council undertook another of its regular meetings with Federal Member for Maranoa and Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud.
In the meeting Minister Littleproud, the Mayor and Councillors discussed a number of issues and projects that are important to the Southern Downs Region. Council was keen to understand if there have been any changes to the Financial Assistance Grants, the major source of funding provided to local government by Federal Government.
Council was keen to discuss with the Minister the progress being made to upgrade the John Dee facility that has received $4.9 million through the Building Better Regions Fund, which will ultimately deliver over 200 jobs to the region.
Additionally Council and the Minister discussed the outcomes of the yet to be released Southern Downs and Granite Belt Tourism Target Market Research Project that was also funded through the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund
There was also discussion about Council’s submission to the Federal Government’s Inquiry into the Indicators of, and Impact of, Regional Inequality in Australia, noting that the Committee has been invited to sit in either Warwick or Stanthorpe.
Issues associated with drought and water management were also discussed, as was the progress of the Inland Rail Project. The Mayor and Councillors highlighted the need to have specific funding streams to support regional aerodromes, especially with regard to major upgrades such as runways.
It was highlighted that Council is proactively seeking to attract more people to the region to fill jobs that are likely to be created over the next 18 months.
Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said, “It is important to have these regular meetings with our local Federal Member so he is aware of the Council’s priorities and wherever possible he can advocate for the Southern Downs. It is also important for the Councillors to understand where opportunities lie in relation to funding and the key issues being pursued by the Federal Government.”
Mayor Dobie went on to say, “We are especially fortunate to have a local member that is in a Ministerial role; a portfolio that is very relevant to the Southern Downs, given that the agricultural sector is the major contributor to the local economy.”
Other key issues discussed included pests and weeds, live exports, funding for Highway upgrades, constitutional recognition for local government, and an update of the Regional Growth Fund and the development of Shaping Southern Downs.
Mayor Dobie highlighted how important these meetings are: “It is important that the Federal Member is aware of the needs of the region and these regular meetings allow for him to receive an update on key issues and initiatives.”