The skyscrapers of Brisbane might seem like an odd place to discuss cattle and grain, but taking the country to the city proved a winning strategy for the Central Highlands Council.
Taking an unconventional approach to advocacy, council’s CEO Scott Mason, Mayor Cr Peter Maguire and the Central Highlands Development Corporation General Manager Sandra Hobbs issued an invitation to Queensland Government department heads and other relevant organisations to attend a presentation on the opportunities for an agribusiness precinct in the Central Highlands region.
‘The response was fantastic,’ said Scott Mason. ‘About 40 people filled the room and the enthusiasm was palpable.
‘We had senior representatives from Aurizon, Graincorp, ESSCO and the departments of Agriculture and Forestry, Premier and Cabinet, State Development, Queensland Treasury, Transport and Main Roads, Trade and Investment—all influential people more than willing to listen and ask questions.
‘This was a great initiative of Peter Maguire’s bought to fruition with assistance from the Queensland State Development Department in Rockhampton.
‘We knew the value of creating energy and synergy within a room full of dynamic influencers—people keen for action and an economic turn-around in the northern regions.
‘And that’s just what happened. The investors and supporters of the meat processing plant, Yamala inland transport hub and oilseed and grain processing facility collaborated to put forward an extremely professional and justifiable proposal that showcased the expanding opportunities available in our region.
‘We proved that there are viable options for our local economy despite the deceleration of the resource sector and we clearly demonstrated our enthusiasm and commitment to make something happen.
‘There was a lot of discussion held, formally and afterwards, where everyone gained a deeper understanding of what the proposal might mean to such activities as freight and supply chain logistics.
‘I’m more than confident that everyone in attendance returned to their office with not only inspired for the project, but with a sense of admiration for what council, CHDC and some enthusiastic business owners can achieve.’
Mr Mason explained that the next step is for council to package the project initiatives into a format that will attract attention from the Australian Government.
‘We’re looking forward to working with the Member for Flynn, Mr Ken O’Dowd, who will support a bid for funding to offset enabling infrastructure.
‘On the state government front, the project falls squarely within the parameters of the Queensland Treasury’s Market-led proposals initiative that facilitates projects aimed at economic growth.
‘And, in terms of continuing research to strengthen the proposal, we will engage the CSIRO to quantify the logistical and financial benefit from locating a meat works and inland transport port in the Central Highlands.’
Sandra Hobbs, General Manager, Central Highlands Development Corporation (07) 4982 4386 or Scott Mason, Chief Executive Officer, Central Highlands Regional Council 1300 242 686.