July 17, 2020
Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio believes the long-term future for the Darling Downs is bright, despite the economic impacts of COVID-19.
Mayor Antonio shared his views when he delivered his annual State of the Region address at a Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise event on Thursday.
He said it was nearly impossible to know where the economy stood, with the world turned upside down because of COVID-19.
“The pandemic-induced economic downturn will seriously challenge the Toowoomba region’s decade-long run of unprecedented growth,” Mayor Antonio said.
“Research by the National Institute of Economic and Industry Research shows that our economy will suffer.
“However, it will generally suffer less than the economies of regional Queensland, Queensland and our national economy.”
The Mayor said there was no doubt job losses and lost productivity due to the coronavirus lockdown would affect regional, state and national economies.
“I am determined that the challenges of COVID-19 will not ultimately define this term of Council and our region,” he said.
“Council remains open for business, but importantly, will continue to engage with our communities about the legacy we are leaving for future generations.”
Mayor Antonio said the Toowoomba region had seen its fair share of natural disasters in recent times.
“In the past 12 months we have faced drought, bushfire, minor floods and a global pandemic,” he said.
“We are a resilient region, and now more than ever is a time for our community to come together to rebuild, once the ills of the global pandemic have passed.
“I’m optimistic that our region has the resolve and the broad base from which we will see a strong rebound and a return to more normal activity with the right support measures.”
Mayor Antonio said the breadth of the Darling Downs’ economy was one of its greatest strengths.
“Historically, regional growth is aided by the public sector and the new pioneers from our private sector, who are shaping the industries of the future,” Mayor Antonio said.
“Our internationally capable airport, pilot academy, data centre, intensive horticulture projects and agtech investments underline the confidence of private investment in the Toowoomba Region.
“These new industries add value to our rich traditions of agriculture and our region’s role as a service centre for education, health and the retail sector.
“On top of this, the recently approved Regional Trade Distribution Centre at Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport, a second weekly freight service to Hong Kong and Singapore Airlines trial, a new CBD hotel and the early planning around a new Toowoomba Hospital will enhance the project pipeline.”
The Mayor said he was also hopeful there would be a clear State Government decision for the New Hope Group on the expansion of the New Acland Coal Mine near Oakey very soon .
Plans for further expansion of the Acland mine have been delayed pending the outcome of court processes.