Innovation, entrepreneurship, skills and economic recovery were the focus of the fourth Darling Downs and South West Queensland Regional Community Forum held in Goondiwindi.
The forum was hosted by the Assistant Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Assistant Minister of State Jennifer Howard, who said the forums, being held across the state, were part of the Palaszczuk Government’s ongoing commitment to regional communities.
“Regional Queenslanders are front of mind as we as we put in place our $6 billion plan for Queensland jobs, with employment creation and investment our top priorities,” she said.
“This forum keeps the focus on the Darling Downs and South West Queensland region as it manages and recovers from the health and economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Today’s forum in Goondiwindi is one of seven being held across regional Queensland, bringing together community members and Government representatives to discuss opportunities to progress future jobs and growth in the region.”
The forum participants toured the Woods Group Algae Farm and McGregor Diesel, and the agenda included supporting innovation and entrepreneurship, the importance of regional-based skilling and training programs to grow and maintain a strong regional workforce and developing a population attraction strategy.
Ms Howard was joined by Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey and Minister for Local Government, Minister for Racing and Minister for Multicultural Affairs Stirling Hinchliffe.
Mr Bailey said the economic impacts from the pandemic were being felt across the world, the nation and Queensland.
“It’s not over yet but we have a strong pipeline of investment in transport and roads projects to keep people working across the state,” he said.
“A cornerstone of that plan for economic recovery is more than $1 billion in new and accelerated roads funding announced since COVID-19 hit.
“The $1 billion will support more than 1,000 new jobs, seal key outback freight routes, accelerate shovel-ready projects and deliver road projects.
“In south-west Queensland, that includes new funding for improvement works on the Carnarvon Highway, Balonne Highway and the Barwon Highway.
“Those new projects announced in recent months will be delivered in addition to our existing $23 billion, 21,500-job pipeline of roads and transport infrastructure over the next four years.”
Mr Hinchliffe said Queenslanders were well aware of the health plan to get through the pandemic and that the economic plan was built on creating and supporting jobs and workforces.
“In 2016 we put in place what has become our $600 million Works for Queensland program, which has already fed into almost 20,000 jobs in remote and regional Queensland.
“On top of that, in July we announced another $200 million for the COVID Works for Queensland program as part of Queensland’s plan to continue to support our councils and their workforces.
“As part of those programs, the regions represented today have received more than $55 million, supporting almost 3000 jobs and more than 60 projects.
“Projects you can expect to get underway shortly from the COVID round include water infrastructure and security in Thargomindah, Hungerford and Goondiwindi.
“Importantly, Toowoomba Regional Council received $2.87 million for water projects to cater for residential growth in the Highfields area – the first time this Council has received Works for Queensland funding.
“We are also committed to Darling Downs and South West Queensland through our Office for Rural and Regional Queensland.
“We are working together to develop economic and social plans to support the best way forward for the region as communities and industries adapt to the new normal.”