IMPROVEMENT NEEDED: Mackay Canegrowers chief executive officer Kerry Latter and chairman Kevin Borg.
IMPROVEMENT NEEDED: Mackay Canegrowers chief executive officer Kerry Latter and chairman Kevin Borg. Lee Constable

Call to change rating system in rural areas

KERRY Latter is urging local government to minimise the impact of infrastructure projects on quality agricultural land.

The Mackay Canegrowers chief executive officer said Mackay Regional Council had overlooked the importance of doing so in the past, when it came to projects like the Walkerston bypass and Mackay Ring Road.

"The Walkerston bypass plan tears up good quality agricultural land as does the ring road project," Mr Latter said.

"But this could actually be vetoed by council."

He believes strategies need to be put in place to develop the projects while at the same time preserving farmland.

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Strategies such as this would form part of a bigger goal to encourage growth within the sugar industry.

Mr Latter also hopes to see rural road maintenance become a council priority, particularly at this time of year before crushing began.

"A lot of properties around here still have unsealed roads which are used by heavy traffic as well as normal traffic," Mr Latter said. "It can become quite dangerous when manoeuvring large vehicles around normal traffic if the road isn't maintained."

He also suggested a differential rural rating system.

"Lots of people on rural properties have their own water supply and are doing lots of their own work," Mr Latter said.

"They need to see value for their rates."

Mackay Canegrowers chairman Kevin Borg said the industry had a strong relationship with council in the past but would like to see it improved further.

He said the Central Region Sugar Group had worked closely with council over the past few years to deliver the 30-year plan for the sugar industry, which he hoped would be launched soon. But he would like to see road maintenance, particularly during the crushing season, a higher priority. He also said he would like to see a council with an understanding, or a willingness to learn, about the industry.

We asked the three Mackay mayoral candidates where they stand on the issue.

Need to know

 Pre-poll voting at the 500 Pavilion at the Mackay showgrounds is open until this Friday at 6pm.

 Polling day is this Saturday; there are 39 places to vote.


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