Separate forums to drive regional policy
TWO unrelated forums discussing the direction of Wide Bay’s economy will be held in two separate cities almost a week apart.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk advocated a series of newly formed regional forums including the one in Wide Bay held in Maryborough next Monday.
It will be chaired by Labor MP Bruce Saunders, who is openly critical of the federal government’s $173m Hinkler Regional Deal.
He is central to the state government’s argument to not financially support the regional deal unless Maryborough is connected to it.
Ms Palaszczuk thanked representatives who nominated themselves for the regional forums.
“This is a great opportunity for members of the public to be involved speaking to my government,” she said in Parliament this week.
But the forum is held about a week before the Regional Economic Development Growth Forum in Gympie, an LNP held seat.
That forum on November 7 is connected to the Department of State Development, the Regional Organisation of Councils, and Regional Development Australia.
Last year it had been held in Bundaberg.
The RDA’s regional chairman, Bill Trevor, said he did not know about the Maryborough forum.
“I’m probably disappointed that we didn’t know anything about this when we partnered with the State at the last three to four forums covering the whole of the Wide Bay,” the Bundaberg deputy mayor said.
He said water security was essential for development.
“Water has always been an issue in the North Burnett and South Burnett where they see further availability of water allowing their rural industries and some of their commercial industries to grow. Water right across Australia has become an issue. We’ve neglected it for … nearly 40 years, and it’s coming back to bite us now.
“So saving water in the flood times and utilising it, we’ve become the food bowl of Australia. In Bundaberg without irrigation we would have no development, no investment coming into the region. There’s been huge benefits, hundreds of millions of dollars in the farming community by people coming in.”