Roads, Waste Management, Skilled Migration and Crime Prevention the top priorities for St George DDSW Qld Mayors’

The Darling Downs and South West Queensland Council of Mayors in St George

DDSWQ Council of Mayor’s Chair and Toowoomba Region Mayor Cr Paul Antonio has hailed the St George meeting (9 June) of the Darling Downs and South West Queensland Council of Mayors (DDSWQ) an outstanding success.

“To see Councils from a quarter of Queensland’s land area working together so well on issues ranging from crime, housing, waste management, transport and addressing the skills shortage was outstanding,” Mayor Antonio said.

Mayor Antonio said the meeting heard from Queensland Police about how they address the core issues related to crime in the region.

“The Police do a fantastic job, and they have broadened their efforts to give some options to young people who have taken the wrong track,” he said.

“The message they gave to the Mayors’ was that they are finding something of interest for the young people that is relevant to their area.

“The Police are doing their best job, and we know this is the case throughout the Darling Downs and South West.

“We learned about programs where Queensland Police are working with wool producers and industry groups to help local youth get involved in the sheep industry.”

Mayor Antonio said moves to establish a Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) to streamline visa applications for skilled migrants moved a step closer to the discussion of a coordinated proposal for the region.

“A DAMA is essential for our area, and who should be involved in committing the resources to progress the business case proposed through our local Regional Development Australia was addressed,” he said.

“There is evidence to show that the area DDSWQ covers is losing skilled migrants because of the opportunities for permanent residency offered in areas already designated as a DAMA.

“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.

“Businesses across the region will be the primary beneficiaries of a DAMA through the incentives for skilled migrants to come to the area.

“Instead of this being a Council run initiative, we need this to be a cooperative effort between local government and the private sector.

“As a group, we will be progressing discussions with business and industry groups to develop a collaborative approach to establishing a DAMA.”

Mayor Antonio said the issue of housing runs right through the Darling Downs and South West region.

“It is incredible to think the communities of St George, Quilpie and Cunnamulla are also feeling the housing shortages we are feeling in Toowoomba Region,” Mayor Antonio said.

“Whether it be the cost of building a house, the rising price of transporting materials, the availability of contractors, there is a common problem between all Councils, and this must be addressed by all levels of government.”

Mayor Antonio said the meeting received 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 critical 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.”

Mayors were updated on the Darling Downs and South West Regional Waste Management Plan, to be finalised later in the year.

Other topics discussed included ideas to address agriculture, plus presentations covering future transport, disaster management, education, incentives for renewable energy and improving rural telecommunication coverage, plus food and fibre updates.

The meeting hosted by Balonne Shire Council received representations from Queensland Government departments, AgForce, Lifeline Darling Downs and South West, NBN Co, the Murray Darling Association, the Murray Darling Basin Authority, Southern Queensland Country Tourism, the Local Government Association of Queensland and other invitees.

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, carries around 25% of its cattle stock, and produces 75% of its grain and pulse crops.

/Public Release. View in full here.