June 23, 2015
Kingaroy’s TAFE College has undergone major changes over the past two years following the merger of SQIT with the Bremer TAFE to form TAFE Queensland South West, Kingaroy Chamber Of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) members heard on Monday night.
TAFE Queensland South West’s 10 campuses now cover an area that stretches from Ipswich to Roma, including two South Burnett colleges – at Kingaroy and Cherbourg.
The Meet’n’Greet was held at Kingaroy TAFE’s Taabinga Room, with catering and services supplied by TAFE hospitality students.
Debbie Jackson and Peter Cox, from TAFE, said the changes had been substantial but had been positive overall, and the 130-year-old vocational education provider was now poised for growth.
They said that TAFE Queensland South West instructors were now servicing the needs of students outside the region as well as at the group’s local campuses.
Debbie and Peter said TAFE had a strong emphasis on providing up-to-date, industry-relevant training. This was well-received by employers and the organisation’s future looked very bright, the said.
“We’re focussed on what our students want,” Debbie told the KCCI members.
“Some might want to study part-time, some might want to study online, some might want to do a school-based appenticeship … whatever it is, we’re focussed on meeting their needs.”
The pair concluded their talk by playing a video showing TAFE Queensland South West’s campuses, facilities and the opinions of students (see above).
The 2015-16 South Burnett Regional Council Budget – due to be handed down next Monday, June 29 – will be a “no frills budget”, Mayor Wayne Kratzmann told KCCI members.
The Mayor, who was updating members on local government issues, said the Council was now “in a good place” in terms of sound finances.
But there was no spare money available and Council would continue to run a tight ship in the year ahead.
The Mayor also told members it wasn’t widely known the floods had cost the Council about $3.8 million out of its own pocket, despite the tens of millions of NDRRA money that flowed into the region for road repairs after the 2011 and 2013 floods.
The extra money had been required to restore road entrances which had been washed away or seriously damaged in the deluges.
“NDRRA money paid for road repairs and only road repairs,” the Mayor said.
“However many rural properties lost their road entrances in the floods.
“We couldn’t fix the roads and have people unable to get into their properties, so we had to fix those, too.”
The Mayor told KCCI members he thought a recent decision by the Federal Government to make the next $100 million round of its “Bridges To Recovery” program only available to local government was a step in the right direction.
“Eighty per cent of the first round of this program was claimed by State governments,” he said.
“We have spent about $12 million over the last four and a half years fixing or replacing bridges in our region, and we still have a lot to go.”
He was hopeful the South Burnett could secure a grant to fix or replace at least one more bridge in the upcoming grant round, which would open in about a month.
Recent hype about the progress of the Hope Dairies project was understandable, Mayor Kratzmann said.
But he knew as little about the project’s schedule as anyone else, despite several meetings with the company’s key executives.
He said Hope Dairies appeared to have purchased about 2500ha of land in the region, and had engaged a number of local farms to grow fodder.
But he said the company was playing its cards close to its chest.
He suspected this might be due to the difficulty of finalising negotiations with Chinese buyers, who had a markedly different attitude toward business negotiations than Australians.
Mayor Kratzmann said he believed there were many people inside and outside the region waiting for a firm announcement about the project so they could begin working on bringing out projects of their own.
“It’s what Kingaroy and the South Burnett are waiting for,” he said.
He said Council’s attitude towards the project remained constructive, and he thought a large-scale dairying enterprise would be a perfect fit for the area.
The fate of the South Burnett Private Hospital is still up in the air, and had moved from being a “day-by-day” process to an “hour by hour” one as the June 30 deadline approached.
The Mayor told KCCI members he hadn’t wavered in his belief the facility was vital for the area, and said he had met with hospital staff last week to advise them of the current situation.
He had received expressions of support from other levels of government but had nothing definite to report at present.
The next KCCI Meet and Greet will be a breakfast meeting at Kingaroy RSL on July 28.