Mayor says departments should lead regional push
GYMPIE leaders Ron Dyne and David Gibson have welcomed the push to decentralise in Queensland.
Premier Campbell Newman wants to double the population outside the state's south-east corner within 30 years.
He has called on local councils to help make that happen by relaxing building height limits and finding other ways to stimulate growth and development.
But Gympie Mayor Ron Dyne said the most immediate and effective way to make that happen was to return State Government departments to the regions, reversing the trend to centralise the public sector in the south-east corner.
Despite a long and passionate battle, the previous state government forced Gympie's Main Roads office to relocate to the Sunshine Coast last year.
The large building in River Rd that housed the more than 120 employees now sits almost empty, while the government pays rent to accommodate the workers on the Coast.
"The State Government needs to pay more than just lip service to make this happen," Cr Dyne said.
"It's all well and good to tell councils to allow higher building heights, but that's just dancing around the issue.
Mr Gibson said one of the very clear outcomes of the Queensland Plan was the need to decentralise.
With 600 respondents to the plan, Gympie residents had been some of the strongest in making their voices heard on this and other issues, Mr Gibson said.
"We all know what a great lifestyle Gympie offers and I'm sure many people would love to escape the 'rat race' to move here if their work was also located here," he said.
"So this should not just be about public service jobs, with recent changes to planning laws to empower local councils the ability to create new opportunities currently exist (sic).
"That provides our region with the opportunity to build upon our unique local advantages to attract new industries, as well as new jobs both public and private.
"Gympie originally rose up because of the discovery of gold, but now finds itself at a unique place in time where its assets of land, people, lifestyle, good transport and access to markets make it an attractive place to live and work."
The Gympie First Forums hosted by Member for Gympie David Gibson over the past year have touched on concepts Mr Gibson says could benefit the Gympie region.
Some of these are:
Potential to relocate the University of the Sunshine Coast forestry research centre to the Gympie region;
Developing industrial land for "hard to locate" industries;
Identifying recreational sporting opportunities for "noisy sports" in our region;
Potential to bring public sector jobs to our region - e.g. relocate the Queensland Rural Fire Brigade headquarters to Gympie or have the Queensland Police Service utilise the forestry centre as a training base in the lead up to the G20 conference in Brisbane next year.