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Let’s keep money local: Join the Why Leave Town program

21 September 2021

Southern Downs Regional Council is supporting the regional economy and local businesses in the Warwick, Allora and Killarney areas with the launch of a new Why Leave Town incentive program.

Jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland Governments through the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA), the Why Leave Town gift card program is designed to keep money circulating within the local community by encouraging people to shop locally.

Council is calling on businesses in the northern part of the region to participate in the free program, allowing the gift cards to be spent with their business.

The program has already been rolled out on the Granite Belt in conjunction with the Stanthorpe and Granite Belt Chamber of Commerce, with more than $40,000 being spent at local businesses since its inception in 2019.

Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi said he is thrilled that the successful program is being introduced in more towns across the region.  

“We have more than 4,000 small businesses on the Southern Downs and we want to support them and foster economic activity,” Mayor Pennisi said. 

“It’s all about generating spending in our region and keeping money circulating locally instead of online or in bigger centres.

“The Why Leave Town cards are also an easy gift-giving alternative or can be used for raffles, competitions or incentive rewards in the workplace – all with the added bonus of keeping the money local.

“This program further reinforces Council commitment to small business following the recent signing of the Small Business Friendly Councils Charter in May.”

Federal Member for Maranoa David Littleproud welcomed the introduction of the Why Leave Town program.

“Small businesses employ local people and bring investment into our towns,” Mr Littleproud said. 

“Every small business should be applauded for going out on their own and having a go. The Federal Government will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with small businesses as they lead our economic recovery.”

Minister for National Recovery and Resilience Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie said the prime objective of the jointly-funded disaster recovery funding is to help local economies recover.

“The 2019 Queensland Bushfires had a devastating impact on local business in the Southern Downs shire, especially its tourism industry,” Minister McKenzie said.

“The Australian Government is pleased to be contributing to this innovative program which is keeping local money in the community and supporting this community to not only recover but be strengthened to better withstand future shocks.”

Minister for Employment and Small Business Di Farmer said supporting small businesses is a key part of Queensland's economic recovery plan.

“Small businesses are the heart and hubs of our local communities, so it is crucial that these small businesses not just survive, but to thrive,” Minister Farmer said.

“This initiative is a wonderful reminder to shop local and support families, our friends, our neighbours and keep our communities strong.

“By signing the Small Business Friendly Council Charter, Council has made a firm commitment to support small businesses and reduce red tape, and it’s fantastic to see the continued work being done to strengthen the community.”

Using an EFTPOS-based system, shoppers can purchase a Why Leave Town gift card at the Warwick Credit Union or online at This card can then be used for purchases at other participating stores in the northern region.

Businesses can register or find out more by contacting Council’s Economic Development and Tourism department at or phone 1300 697 372. To participate, businesses must have an EFTPOS machine.

The program is proudly funded by the Australian and Queensland Governments through the DRFA Category C Tourism Recovery Program established following the 2019 Queensland bushfires.

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