Warwick Chamber of Commerce pushes gas case
NATURAL gas piped to the Southern Downs region could be on the cards soon if the Warwick Chamber of Commerce has its way.
The issue was part of an eight-item 'wish list' written up with enthusiasm by the chamber recently and hand-delivered to Federal Member for Maranoa Bruce Scott to lobby Canberra.
Chamber president Bruce Partridge said the region's need for natural gas supplies had been raised by Mr Scott at a local government forum and something the business community should support.
"A few years back a huge chicken abattoir was looking to move to the region, however, couldn't without a natural gas supply, which is cheaper and more environmentally friendly," Mr Partridge said.
"So if we had the supply benefiting the region it has the potential to attract big businesses, factories and manufacturers."
Mr Partridge understood there was a supply in Toowoomba, with the potential to extend the pipeline to the Southern Downs as well as the Granite Belt.
"There is potential to also be used in the Stanthorpe area as natural gas is used like any other energy source in terms of refrigeration and ripening among other things," he said.
"Local government and the region's chambers of commerce need to pursue getting natural gas to our region."
Other things on the wish list include:
The inland rail
As reported in the Daily News this week, the option of the Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail route coming through the west of Warwick is back on the table.
Bruce Scott met Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and project leaders on Tuesday night to put forward "the more viable option" of using an existing corridor through Warwick instead of the current preferred Millmerran route.
"The chamber is very excited to discover that Mr Scott has supported the call for Warwick to be included in the inland rail route," Mr Partridge said.
The Eight Mile
"Mr Scott reported that he stands by the improvements at the Eight Mile and that federal funding will be available. However, the planning is a state issue (covered by Lawrence Springborg)," Mr Partridge said.
Emu Swamp Dam
As reported in the Daily News and Border Post this week, Emu Swamp Dam has found its way on to the Federal Government's short list of future dam projects.
The plans for the dam are still waiting for approval and despite making this 30-strong short list, it would still be many years before the dam was completed.
"Mr Scott advised the chamber that bridge replacement money is now available and councils are urged to apply," Mr Partridge said.
Mr Scott has ensured he will take the issues faced by Rose City businesses regarding the NBN 'black hole' back to Communications Minister Malcolm Turnball.
Representatives from businesses in the Rose City met with the NBN's Graham Soawyer at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast last month to discuss why Warwick had been left off the rollout of the National Broadband Network.
Southern Downs councillor Neil Meiklejohn, who has been a vocal supporter of NBN in the past, led the frustrated calls from business leaders over the lack of a time frame for the roll out.
"We're in the fourth year of a three-year program," he said at the time. "The black hole that shows on the map needs to be addressed - it's wearing thin."
Another issue the chamber put to Mr Scott was pushing for funding for removable bridge railings for the O.O. Madsen Bridge coming into town, in the event of a flood.
Mr Scott advised the chamber the bridge railings were a state issue.
Mt Lindesay Hwy
"The Leyburn-Woodenbong Rd has received new federal funding allowing a fresh start to some sections has recently been announced," Mr Partridge said.
"The chamber remains pleased with the success of the meeting and remain confident local issues will continue to be supported by Mr Scott on a federal level."