COUNCIL nominee Scott McDonell is determined to lower rates, stimulate opportunities for current businesses in the region and attract new investors to the area.
Ahead of the local bi-election at the end of this month for the Central Highlands Regional Council, Mr McDonell said it was vital that council "gets serious" about lowering rates which were stifling growth in business and inhibiting current businesses from being competitive.
He said council overheads were too high, and the progression of infrastructure in the region was not sustainable.
"We were promised rates relief. This was the key request of the CHRC electors at the last election, and that has not been delivered," he said.
"Rate pain is the number one issue in this region. We have homes being foreclosed on due to rates. People are struggling to make these payments, and yet we have had no movement by council on the issue. It's an investment killer and a job killer."
"Paying down the huge debt that the CHRC currently has would be a start. Interest on that bill alone is a world of pain for ratepayers, and let's get some real investment development happening in the region, not just dreams of big projects."
Mr McDonell, who is the operations manager for Central Highlands Aerial Services, said there had been a desire for massive projects in the region which were difficult to deliver, including the abattoir which was currently stalled.
"So it makes sense to consider what projects are deliverable. Ten single $10-million projects are easier to deliver than a single $100-million project. Encouraging smaller projects to move their operation closer to the production line makes more sense to me.
"Businesses that value-add to the agricultural supply chain and would benefit by bringing processing closer to the production. Milling, cooking, packaging, this list is robust, and if we add in entrepreneurial start-ups in Ag, that list gets longer again. But to get them here we need two things: logistics and low cost of operations. We have the Inland Port project which is ideal for such projects, but our overheads for businesses and for people to live and invest in this region is one of the highest in the state. And that's a big problem."
Mr McDonell, who was a Duaringa Shire councillor from 2003-2004, said it was important that an environment for business investment and agricultural development was encouraged.
"On a personal level, I have lived in this region for the better part of two decades. My children go to school here, my wife and her family are from here. I have deep roots and a real connection to the Central Highlands. Regardless of where my career has taken me, we love this region, and we continue to return here."
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