The Darling Downs and South West Queensland (DDSWQ) Council of Mayors have met to discuss numerous issues relating to transport, agriculture, flood recovery and refugee relocation. 

The Council heard from the Ernst and Young team behind a submission to the Federal Government for the upgrade of the Western Rail Line to allow interoperability with Inland Rail when it arrives. 

DDSWQ Council of Mayors’ Chair, Mayor Paul Antonio, said the council supports this submission and these upgrades would greatly benefit producers to the west. 

“This is a project that has the backing of the DDSWQ Council of Mayors and we eagerly await the Federal Government’s reaction to the proposal,” Mr Antonio said. 

The Council also discussed the threat of Foot and Mouth Disease in cattle as well as the impacts of the Murray Darling Basin plan. 

“It is a big concern for the Queensland cattle industry that Foot and Mouth Disease is so close to our shores in Indonesia and Friday’s meeting was a chance for the Mayors to discuss this and keep up the advocacy with the Federal Government on this issue especially given over 60 per cent of cattle in feedlots are in our area and 70 per cent of the state’s grain production comes from this area,” Mr Antonio said. 

“Friday’s meeting was also an opportunity for the group to hear from Andrew McConville, the CEO of the Murray Darling Basin Authority, about the ongoing review of the basin plan with a focus on realism and flexibility into the future. The upcoming Murray Darling Basin Conference will be held in Albury and the DDSWQ Council of Mayors’ are very keen to hear of the outcomes of the conference.” 

The council was updated on the impending arrival of 10 families who are part of the migrant and refugee relocation program from Toowoomba to St George. 

“Regional migration is so important to the cultural fabric of many towns across South-West Queensland and the group has applauded the work of TRAMS (Catholic Care), Multicultural Australia, Balonne Shire Council and business operators in the Balonne region. This Federally-funded project will become a model for potential roll-out more broadly and may now attract more funding which we look forward to,” Mr Antonio said.

The meeting also welcomed State Disaster Coordinator Major-General, Jake Ellwood, and the Queensland Reconstruction Authority’s Brendan Moon, to discuss the ongoing flood recovery efforts across South-West Queensland.

“The ongoing recovery efforts will be a mammoth task for many regions across the Darling Downs and South-West and we will need help from the State,” Mr Antonio said. 

“The meeting was a positive opportunity to discuss with Major-General Ellwood our issues and the ongoing needs of local government as we continue to recover.

“Major-General Ellwood discussed the clear guidelines that are in place for recovery efforts and acknowledged how hard our farmers and rural communities have been affected. He has a strong appreciation of the role local Councils play which is positive. The longer-term Queensland Resilience Plan is almost completed and importantly places more focus on shifting resources to prevention and mitigation rather than just repairs which is something I’ve been advocating for a long time.”

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