CQ councils to unite
STARING down the barrel of unprecedented population growth and industry expansion challenges, 19 Central Queensland councils are on the verge of an historic alliance.
The tipping point for change came at last week's two-day Central Queensland Local Government Association's Leading the Way conference in Dysart.
Central Highlands Regional Council Mayor Peter Maguire was buoyant about the prospects of the new alliance having the clout to take on State and Federal governments and lobby for increased funding.
“I think we're calling it strength in numbers… and I think this might just be the birth of something,” he said.
“This is not just to go to the State Government, but the Federal Government as well.
“I think we can collaborate for the betterment of the whole region.
“All of us have our own priorities but we want to work together and work in greater numbers for the Central Queensland area and the betterment of all our communities.”
Barcaldine Regional Council Mayor Rob Chandler said another meeting next week would begin to formalise ties between the councils.
“This group has come together for the first time in history and we've having the meeting next week to make sure everyone's in,” he said.
“We're not forming an alliance to bash government; we're forming it to have a bigger regional voice as to infrastructure needs for all our councils that exploration, mining, coal seam gas and the like has brought on.”
Cr Maguire said the alliance – encompassing councils from Wide Bay in the south to Mackay in the north - would enable better information sharing and planning for infrastructure, water, transport and funding solutions.
Between them, the local governments have tallied more than $100 billion in potential projects for their districts from 2010-14.
“These projects are in various stages of development, and some of the employment figures we're talking about are in the thousands in exploration and construction, and I don't know where they're all going to come from,” said Cr Maguire.
“I think our goals will start coming if we can reach consensus next week.
“We want to work more collaboratively together on regional arrangements because we believe this area is being overlooked.”