Mayor outlines challenges, opportunities for Council term

The Toowoomba Region is well placed to address and overcome present challenges, as well as seize on opportunities that will continue to deliver lifestyle benefits and job prospects for residents.

Toowoomba Region Mayor Paul Antonio today outlined broad plans for Toowoomba Regional Council’s new quadrennial term at the Post-Election Meeting of Council, which was held at The Annex to allow for social distancing requirements during the Coronavirus pandemic.

“We in the Toowoomba Region pride ourselves on being a family-friendly and liveable region,” Mayor Antonio said.

“Our location on the Daring Downs offers many benefits for people to establish a business in addition to a host of attractive and safe features where families can live, work, play and study.

“The Toowoomba Region is one of the most productive agricultural areas in Australia, with an internationally capable airport, tremendous road connectivity and the potential of a soon-to-be-constructed national rail line, making it ready for trade and investment.

“Before the global pandemic took hold, the Toowoomba Region economy was among the broadest and best performing economies across Australia. We were outperforming similar regional centres, and our numbers mostly exceeded state and national indicators.

“Our regional growth is aided by public sector infrastructure and, just as importantly, several large-scale projects that have been built with significant investment by new pioneers from our private sector who are shaping the industries of the future.

“The construction of an internationally capable airport, pilot academy, data centre, intensive horticulture projects and Agtech investments and extensive value-adding processes in food production underline the confidence of private investment in the Toowoomba Region.

“These new industries add value to our rich tradition of agriculture and our region’s role as a service centre for education, health and the retail sector.

“During this Council term, we hope to see the start of the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail line. This will include the most significant local construction project ever undertaken in our region, the $5 billion Inland Rail tunnel project to be drilled right through The Toowoomba Range.

“Alongside this nation-building infrastructure, we will also see the creation of complementary projects such as InterLinkSQ and investment in our Toowoomba Trade Gateway. Together with the Toowoomba Bypass, this sets a strong foundation for our region becoming a nationally significant and strategic transport and logistics hub.

“It is my ambition that this term of Council will build on the momentum of the previous four years, remain open for business, but importantly, engage with our communities about the legacy we are leaving for future generations.”

Mayor Antonio said he was determined that the challenges of the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 would not define this term.

“Instead, Council will focus its attention on bolstering our community resilience and improving our liveability.

“There is no doubt that job losses and lost productivity due to the Coronavirus lockdown will affect regional, state and national economies. I’m extremely optimistic that our region has the resolve and the broad base from which we will see a strong rebound and a return to more normal activity with the right support measures.

“Local governments are the community builders, and our response to this pandemic must help our business community to rebuild after this unprecedented event.

“We look forward to working with the State and Federal Governments to support our residents who have been affected by the Coronavirus. Council will offer complimentary assistance as one of its first priorities.

Mayor Antonio said that the pandemic was not the only challenge ahead for the new Council.

He said Council’s collective goals must address many and varied tasks, including:

  • Water security for our whole region,
  • A new Regional Planning Scheme that prepares us for the future and balances our liveability with the investment-friendly conditions that support good development,
  • Investing in roads of regional significance for industry and to accommodate future regional growth, as well as investment in infrastructure that will make us more resilient to natural disasters,
  • Investing in the community infrastructure, such as libraries, art galleries, community halls and swimming pools that make our region more liveable,
  • Creating an environment that encourages people from across the world to live, work, play and study in our region,
  • Encouraging a more active and healthy community by maintaining our world-renowned parks, recreational facilities, and in doing so, increase the number of visitors coming to our region and building on the success of our premier event, the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers,
  • Reinforcing the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling precious resources as outlined in Council’s Waste Management Strategy,
  • Engaging with the community as a truly customer service focussed organisation that understands the needs of our residents, and
  • Importantly, we must do all this in a financially sustainable way.

“I believe that our residents expect strong leadership from their elected representatives and collegiality and a level of professionalism beyond reproach,” Mayor Antonio said.

“As a Council, we must work as a united team with a cooperative culture that is respectful of the broad range of opinions that may be expressed from time to time, and for the good our community.

“I’m confident that our combined efforts will strengthen our rich traditions and ensure current and future generations take full advantage of our bold ambitions.

“The past years have been an exciting time to be part of the Toowoomba Region, and I believe that our region’s brightest days are ahead of us.

“I look forward to working with you all to continue to grow our economy and seize the opportunities that are ahead of us.”

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