Kick-starting regional development with energy

View From the Paddock


Census data reveals people continue to leave the bush but energy solutions are at hand, according to View From the Paddock columnist, Lindsay Godfrey.

Paroo shire mayor, Lindsay Godfrey.

Paroo shire mayor, Lindsay Godfrey.

I cannot help but reflect on the latest census data which reveals 217 people left my district in the last recording period.

This accounts for 15 per cent of the population. 

There are going to be flow-on impacts to our local community as a result of this.

How do you stop the decline in our areas?

Who is ultimately responsible for ensuring our communities are resourced and vibrant?

It is not the role of government alone, although the policies of late are more in the interest of a political election cycle as opposed to long-term, visionary, community-building policies. 

Even when we, the regions, try to collectively stand to advocate for issues we are plagued with white-anting and self-interest above community well-being.

I can only imagine what it is like at the very top – every person seems to have an agenda.

Business against business, council against council, opposing political parties; everyone has an agenda. 

So does this mean for regional communities to thrive we need to live in a Utopia?

Find some magic dust for all to get on board and sing the same tune?  Or is regional Queensland already in the ‘too hard basket’?  

Leadership does need to come from the top and, from a policy perspective, regional development is a policy pitch which is diverse and difficult.

It is a complex issue, a wide subject matter already demonised by the woes of weather and the tyranny of distance.   

Governments have a responsibility to ensure basic services are supplied.

Unfortunately, a lot of this spending is allocated on a population basis, not good for the likes of us when 15pc just packed up and left.

Maybe our government could consider zonal tax incentives? 

And we know strategic, large scale infrastructure projects go a long way to accelerate economic development in an area. 

Again, we are disadvantaged by our population and the election cycle.

There will be no cross-river rail projects for the west anytime soon, I am sure.

When problems do arise, my utopia for decision making would be to turn them into opportunities.

Mayors from across the region gather in Toowoomba this week to discuss energy reform.

Finger pointing and blame games across the political spectrum were expected to be at the forefront.

A potential solution for all of Australia could be found in a major infrastructure investment via an inter-connector joining the southern states with Queensland, a state rich in resources and an abundance of energy opportunities.

Maybe, just maybe, common sense can prevail and we can kill two birds with one stone – kick-start our economic development in regional areas and at the same time deliver affordable energy across the nation.

We need vision. We need long-term commitment. And we need to remove the too hard basket from the room.

 – Paroo shire mayor, Lindsay Godfrey


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