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Council puts big issues on the table during visit with Queensland Government

Drought, water security, infrastructure and agriculture were on the table last week when Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie met with Queensland Government Ministers to highlight the big issues impacting the region.

Cr Dobie and Southern Downs Regional Council CEO David Keenan travelled to Queensland Parliament in Brisbane to meet with the Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, Mark Furner, the Minister for Natural Resources Mines and Energy, Dr Anthony Lynham, and Minister for Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs, Stirling Hinchliffe.

Mayor Tracy Dobie said the impacts of drought; key infrastructure and the region’s short and long-term water security were at the forefront of all three meetings.

“Council initiated these discussions with the Ministers to continue to advocate for the Southern Downs at a State Government level and to ensure the issues significantly impacting our region remain on the table,” Cr Dobie said.

“We spent a good amount of time with each of the three Ministers on what was a parliamentary sitting day and discussions were very productive.

“The key takeaway from those discussions was that the Southern Downs is a progressive region and is really kicking goals in regards to current and future development.

“As a local government and as a region, we are doing very well in successfully turning Council around financially. We are now well and truly sustainable and continue to address short and long term solutions for the region, for the economy, major projects and infrastructure.”

The region’s water security was at the centre of the Mayor’s discussions with the Minister for Natural Resources Mines and Energy Anthony Lynham, while the impacts of climate change and drought were the key talking points with the Minister for Agriculture Industry Development and Fisheries, Mark Furner.

“I discussed drought and water at length with Mr Lynham in regards to our impending urban water shortages and the need for State Government support,” Cr Dobie said.

“In particular, we focused on the way this drought has increased demand for urban water from the rural sector; the pressure placed on agricultural water allocations and entitlements, and Council’s in-principle support for Emu Swamp Dam as an irrigation project.

“The discussions with Mr Furner were around the Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate and its extension to include fruit trees and grapevines as well as implementing changes to use recycled water extensively in the agricultural sector. 

“We raised a number of other issues regarding the drought and the way it is now impacting all sectors in our region but especially agricultural.”

Cr Dobie and Mr Keenan then met with Stirling Hinchliffe, Minister for Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs, to discuss local government reforms and the recent Council decision on the de-amalgamation proposal put forward by the Granite Belt Community Association.

“These are the big issues for our whole region at the moment and as a Council we are putting forward what matters most to our communities and residents across the Southern Downs,” the Mayor said.

“We will continue to communicate with the Ministers and make our case for continuing State Government support on those issues which require a working partnership.”

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