November 8, 2019
The State Government announced this week that work will begin soon on developing a new Regional Plan aimed at boosting jobs in the Wide Bay Burnett region.
The existing plan – which covers the South Burnett, Cherbourg, Gympie, North Burnett, Fraser Coast and Bundaberg council areas – was last updated in 2011.
State Development Minister Cameron Dick said regional plans were long-term, strategic planning documents which brought together councils and communities to address matters such as housing supply, economic development, industrial, environment, transport and infrastructure requirements.
According to the Department of State Development website, the current Wide Bay Burnett Regional Plan will be reviewed and an updated draft plan will be prepared over the next six to nine months.
The draft will then be released for public consultation. Comments and feedback will be considered before a final Wide Bay Burnett Regional Plan is released.
“Regional plans are subject to review at periodic intervals to ensure they remain relevant and allow regions to capitalise on and respond to new and emerging opportunities and challenges,” Mr Dick said.
“The Wide Bay Burnett region is growing, with an additional 67,200 people expected to be living in the region by 2041, requiring 34,100 new dwellings to be built and more than 24,000 new jobs.
“The economic strategy will identify priorities that build upon the region’s competitive advantages in aviation, advanced manufacturing and aquaculture and tourism, while also addressing any possible barriers to economic growth.”
Mr Dick said the new plan would be developed in conjunction with the six councils and all Mayors would be invited to join a regional planning committee.
The regional planning process will aim to:
“Importantly, the revised plan will integrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge, culture and tradition as part of the planning process, following changes to Queensland’s planning legislation,” Mr Dick said.
Wide Bay Burnett Regional Organisation of Councils (WBBROC) chairman, Gympie Mayor Mick Curran welcomed the announcement.
“I am looking forward to increased collaboration and local involvement in this process as this will foster a strong and inclusive region,” Cr Curran said.
“Our region has been advocating for the review of the regional plan and I’m pleased that the review process has now commenced.”
Shadow Minister for State Development Andrew Powell reacted more negatively.
“Annastacia Palaszczuk can’t even manage a city deal for the region let alone a new economic plan,” he said.
“Labor’s only other non-Brisbane regional plan took over three years just to develop a draft.”
Mr Powell claimed the State Government had slashed funding for road infrastructure projects in the Wide Bay region.
“The neglect of this region by Annastacia Palaszczuk is staggering,” he said.
Mr Dick said economic development workshops would be held with stakeholders to determine economic priorities that are “inclusive, sustainable and promote the region’s growth”.