April 30, 2021
The future of 75 full-time jobs at Wondai’s Parkside sawmill has been thrown into doubt after DTMR inspectors banned B-doubles from travelling into the Wondai Industrial Estate.
The ban was imposed last Friday without warning and led to lengthy discussions at the South Burnett Regional Council’s General Meeting this week.
Mayor Brett Otto said DTMR’s decision would severely affect Parkside’s operations.
It could also spell disaster for several other businesses based at the Industrial Estate that relied on B-double transports to shift raw materials and finished products on and off the site.
Parkside’s plans for expansion of its Wondai operations could also grind to a halt if the problem wasn’t quickly resolved.
Mayor Otto said Parkside employed 75 staff along with dozens of contractors.
This made it the largest private sector employer in the Wondai-Murgon area.
Council had already set aside $900,000 from its recent $1.9 million Local Roads and Community Infrastructure grant to upgrade the Industrial Estate’s roads.
Mayor Otto and Crs Duff, Schumacher and Potter had visited Parkside’s mill just a few days before the DTMR ban to share the good news about the upgrade with the local management team.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Infrastructure General Manager Aaron Meehan told Councillors the full cost of bringing the industrial estate up to DTMR standards was unknown.
He suggested one possible solution might be to make traffic through the estate one way but if achieving full DTMR compliance meant widening the roads, he warned the cost would be much greater.
Mayor Otto said Council would need to find the money to solve the problem, but was concerned there was very little public appetite for Council increasing its borrowings in the current term and very little free cash available in Council’s coffers.
Cr Gavin Jones said that as Roads portfolio chair, he fully supported any action Council could take to assist Parkside and other industrial estate businesses with the problem.
He suggested Council might like to reconsider its Works For Queensland projects as a potential funding source.
In the end, Councillors voted to wait for Mr Meehan to bring a fully costed estimate back to a Standing Committee meeting.
Mayor Otto will also approach the State Government to see if Council can be granted some extra time to resolve the problem.