March 28, 2018
Last week’s public consultation meetings about the Kingaroy Revitalisation project had been “very positive”, according to South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell.
The Mayor told Wednesday night’s Kingaroy Chamber Of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) meet and greet that more than 80 business owners, shopkeepers and residents had attended one of the four consultation meetings held last Thursday and Friday.
“The responses of those who attended showed the draft plans have been largely accepted by the community,” he said.
The Mayor also thanked the KCCI for its interest in the project, and for suggestions it had made that Kingaroy, Haly and Alford streets should be the highest priorities.
While Building Better Regions grant funding for the project will not be known until successful applicants are announced in the next 4-6 weeks, the Mayor thought efforts to date would not be wasted.
“Whether this (project) goes ahead or not, we’ll get a set of community-approved plans for Kingaroy’s upgrade that we can start on either now or later.”
The Mayor said his own view was that it would be better to carry out upgrade work in a continuous sequence from one year to the next, rather than take a piecemeal approach that depended on the funds available in each Budget.
For that reason, if Council’s grant application was not successful he would prefer to defer work on the project until the Council had built up sufficient financial reserves to undertake it themselves.
On other topics, the Mayor said Monday night’s opening of Ken Mills’ new Isuzu Ute and Kia dealerships and Swickers’ steady progress on building its new kill floor were both positive signs for the region.
“When existing businesses in our region expand, they signal confidence in the area to other local businesses, and that’s a good thing,” the Mayor said.
“Ken Mills’ new buildings in River Road are a great upgrade to his site and they send out a good message.”
Turning to the Coopers Gap Wind Farm, the Mayor said the Council are currently in discussions with AGL about upgrading access roads to the wind farm, and Council’s position was that it wanted AGL to pay for as much as possible.
“Really, it’s going to be their trucks that will get the most use out of these roads and cause the most damage to them, and AGL’s wind farm who’ll get most of the benefits” the Mayor said.
“We don’t want ratepayers to be burdened with the cost of fixing these roads up after construction is finished, so we’re having a bit of argy-bargy right now.”
Speaking of the region’s roads in general, Mayor Campbell said the Council now had more detailed analysis about the regional road network than it’s ever had, thanks to the introduction of the automated RACAS (“Road Asset Condition Assessment System”) last October.
“Now we have a need to act on it in a business-like way,” Mayor Campbell said.
Discussions about next year’s Budget have already begun, the Mayor said, and he will be arguing that as much money as possible be put into road maintenance.
The KCCI has been very active sourcing opportunities for South Burnett businesses this year, KCCI president Rob Fitz-Herberet told the meeting.
KCCI representatives had attended several meetings organised by Toowoomba Surat Basin Enterprises (TSBE) with AGL to identify opportunities associated with the Coopers Gap Wind Farm.
It had then promoted these opportunities through its partnership network to ensure as many local businesses as possible heard about them.
The KCCI had also held meetings with the Council over its Kingaroy Revitalisation project, promoting attendance at the public consultation meetings to local businesses and getting their feedback.
Mr Fitz-Herbert said there was a limited appetite for the Council’s proposed Glendon Street upgrade, but was pleased the general consensus was fore Kingaroy, Alford and Haly streets to be worked on first.
The KCCI had determined there was a need for RV, caravan, ag-machinery friendly and disabled car parking bays in the project, and it would like to see work begin with whatever funds were available because Kingaroy was looking “very tired”.
“Overall, we believe the community consultations were a good idea but there are lessons to be learned from it,” Mr Fitz-Herbert said.
“Probably the biggest lesson is that it is better to ask the community what it wants first before going on to produce detailed concept plans.”
Wednesday night’s meeting was also addressed by Pete Cox and Jo Gudmann from Golden West Apprenticeships, a group training organisation that specialises in the employment of apprentices and trainees.
They explained how to select a potential apprentice; how apprenticeship contracts are formed; and the role organisations like Golden West play in the process.
Golden West have offices in Roma, Dalby and Toowoomba but also cover the South Burnett, and can help local employers find and train suitable apprentices.
The Meet and Greet was held at St Mary’s Catholic College, and after kicking off with a barbecue dinner guests were given a view inside one of the school’s newest buildings.
St Mary’s Principal Angela Myles told the meeting she was now in her third year in the post.
She said a major shake-up of the secondary school system that will start next year had made college officials start to think about positive future directions for the school.
In particular, they would like to see St Mary’s more closely connected to the community, and see its students find more pathways into local jobs at the end of their secondary studies.
At present, St Mary’s has more than 500 students enrolled from Prep to Year 12.
While it is a Catholic college, it is open to students of all faiths and barely 30 to 40 per cent of enrolments follow the Catholic faith.
She asked guests at the meeting to answer four questions to help guide the school.
Local businesses who didn’t attend the Meet and Greet but would like to have input are welcome to email their responses to the school.
The KCCI’s Meet and Greets are held every six weeks at a different business in Kingaroy.
These informal meetings are open to all South Burnett businesses – whether they’re KCCI members or not.
A $10 meeting fee applies to cover the cost of drinks and nibbles.