Queensland Premier Anna Bligh.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh.

Time to act, Anna Bligh

A PLANNED visit by Premier Anna Bligh to the Mary Valley would serve no useful purpose until she has something significant and concrete to announce for the area, according to Gympie Region Mayor Ron Dyne.

But Cr Dyne says there is plenty for the government to discuss with council with regard to the Gympie Region overall, particularly the increasingly urgent need for new land use planning policies and action.

Cr Dyne yesterday followed up on calls by leading Gympie industrialist Kerren Smith for an urgent whole-of-community involvement in taking the region forward.

The chairman of both the Australian Industry, Engineering and Manufacturing Network in Wide Bay and the Wide Bay Institute of TAFE, Mr Smith said Gympie was strategically located to be the major centre of growth pressures and opportunities overflowing from Brisbane and the South East region.

“We need to attract innovative and smart industries to employ people in good jobs and professions,” Mr Smith said.

On a region-wide scale, Mr Smith’s remarks appeared to reflect the feelings of many Mary Valley residents who, while not seeking a high level of residential and industrial growth, are never-the-less in the process of urgently planning a new future, including new and innovative industries.

Ms Bligh promised to visit the Valley this year, after Environment Minister Peter Garrett scrapped the Traveston Crossing dam.

It is a promise that Gympie MP David Gibson has been playing back to her, saying it has already taken her too long to get here.

However, Ms Bligh says she is taking advice from Cr Dyne about the timing of her visit. And he says there is not much point yet until options for developing a future for the Valley are clearer.

“We funded the local council to work with (the community) on developing options for the Mary Valley,” Ms Bligh told ABC radio.

“It was the Mayor’s view that when some of that work was done, I would talk to the community,” she said.

Cr Dyne said that, region-wide and over the larger Wide Bay-Burnett Region, wheels were already turning to produce the kind of planning which Mr Smith was calling for, in his exclusive interview with The Gympie Times last week.

It was a view also strongly backed in State Parliament this month by Treasurer Andrew Fraser, who told the House parts of regional Queensland showed growth challenges “just as big as they are here in the south-east.

“This is no more evident than in the Wide Bay-Burnett region,” Mr Fraser said.

“To manage this growth, to lead to the future, late last year the Premier announced that the Wide Bay region would have its own statutory regional plan that would take in the Bundaberg, Fraser Coast, Gympie, North Burnett, South Burnett and the Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire council areas.

“The plan will be a best practice planning document that addresses the issues relevant to creating a diverse local economy, protecting the regional lifestyle and the local environment.

“Planning is about making choices. I am confident that the Wide Bay-Burnett Regional Plan will be one for the future, one that makes the right choices,” he said.

Cr Dyne said yesterday that the Gympie Region “is now getting closer to having its first Economic Development Strategy, thanks to assistance provided through the State Government.

“Council is working closely with the Queensland Government on this very important project for the region.”

He encouraged business and community leaders to contact him about issues they want considered in the planning process.

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