Advancing plans for potential road network upgrades, regional waste management plans and providing an incentive for skilled workers to relocate to regional Queensland were some key of the topics discussed at the Darling Downs and South West Queensland (DDSWQ) Council of Mayors’ meeting in Toowoomba (March 24).
DDSWQ Council of Mayor’s Chair and Toowoomba Region Mayor Cr Paul Antonio said the meeting would receive an update on a CSIRO freight analysis proposal designed to offer Councils data that could inform funding applications for road infrastructure upgrades.
“This evidence-based analysis approach is likely to result in greater funding success for vital road infrastructure upgrades,” Mayor Antonio said.
“Every local authority is well versed in the competitive process for securing state and federal funding which is vital to supplement our investment in upgrading important road freight networks.
“Highlighting the most important roads to consider for funding, based on freight data, will ensure local authorities and the State Government avoid duplication and work collaboratively to plan upgrades for key freight routes.”
Mayor Antonio said moves to establish a Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) to streamline visa applications for skilled migrants moved a step closer with discussion of a coordinated proposal for the region.
“There are various skill gaps across the local authorities, and this process, which mirrors a similar scheme that is operating successfully at Cairns, could match workers to the areas in greatest need,” he said.
“There is evidence to show the area DDSWQ covers is losing skilled migrants because of the opportunities for permanent residency being offered in areas designated as a DAMA.”
The meeting was updated on the Darling Downs and South West Waste Management Plan, that is due to be finalised later in the year.
Other topics discussed included ideas to address workforce strategies, plus presentations covering future transport, disaster management, education, incentives for renewable energy and improving rural telecommunication coverage, plus food and fibre updates.
Presentations from Queensland Government departments, AgForce, Lifeline Darling Downs and South West, NBN Co, the Murray Darling Association, Southern Queensland Country Tourism, the Local Government Association of Queensland and other invitees are scheduled on the program.
The Council of Mayors (DDSWQ) represents the communities of the Bulloo, Quilpie, Paroo, Murweh, Maranoa, Balonne, Western Downs, Goondiwindi, Southern Downs and Toowoomba regions and shires, covering an area the size of Sweden.
The group represents one quarter of Queensland’s land area and carries around 25% of its cattle stock and produces 75% of its grain and pulse crops.