SDRC putting us on the map
SOUTHERN Downs councillors will push to have the region included in a plan that will place it firmly on the map.
At a special meeting on Tuesday morning, councillors confirmed SDRC would make a submission to be included in the Shaping South-East Queensland Plan.
Mayor Tracy Dobie said the submission followed consultation with mayors from south-east Queensland regions, including Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale, yesterday morning.
Cr Dobie said with south-east Queensland set to grow by two million new residents in the next 25 years, it was crucial to be included in the plan.
"Shaping South-East Queensland is for the next 25 years for this part of Queensland, and we need to have a linkage into that plan at the very least,” she said.
"We are a key linkage into south-east Queensland - we have two highways into south-east Queensland, and we supply plenty of agricultural products to south-east Queensland.
"For that reason it is really important to look at where we figure in that so we can help grow our economy and population.
"We have enough room for development already in our planning scheme and so there's a really good argument that we are the right environment to grow business.”
Planning portfolio councillor Neil Meiklejohn said it was a good opportunity to work with Lockyer Valley and Scenic Rim Regional Councils, which share similar industries and economic goals.
Deputy mayor Jo McNally said the plan could be an opportunity to leverage greater State Government support in maintaining highways for the region.
"Especially with regard to the New England and Cunningham Hwys - these are vital linkages within our region,” Cr McNally said.
"Without us there would be no bridge into south-east Queensland and those highways should be maintained to a high standard.”
Cr Dobie said all the councillors and council staff had been proactive in responding to the submission and others.
"We have already been meeting with a number of mayors of other councils and talking about where the Southern Downs fits and helping them understand the role we have to play,” she said.
"We appreciate the south-east Queensland councils have been organised and discussing this for some time.
"Even if we don't get accepted as a key player in the plan, we would like to be acknowledged as a linkage.
"We fit into the Darling Downs and South West regional plan currently, but it was poorly constructed when it was written in 2013 so we have asked the plan be rewritten to bring more focus to what the Southern Downs has to offer.
"We have already been doing a lot of lobbying as well as our planning for Shaping Southern Downs as well.”
Cr Dobie reiterated the importance of councillors having a say on state policy issues.
"Making an effort to make these submissions has been really important for us,” she said.
"Our council hasn't done that before and haven't participated in commenting on the writing and implementation of state policy.
"It's a big part of selling our region and telling the Queensland Government we're here, we have a voice and we're willing to use it.”
Councillor Vic Pennisi pushed to have ongoing projects - namely Emu Swamp Dam - included in the plan.
"Whatever the outcome is in the long run, it is a project we've secured funding for and we're working on,” Cr Pennisi said.
"I think that should be reflected in the plan.”