Election wishlist revealed for the Southern Downs

NEW PROJECTS: Southern Downs Regional Council has set out its priorities for the region ahead of the State Election.
NEW PROJECTS: Southern Downs Regional Council has set out its priorities for the region ahead of the State Election. KERRI MOORE

WATER security, jobs growth and greater certainty for infrastructure funding are among the priorities Southern Downs Regional Council has laid out as the state election draws near.

Mayor Tracy Dobie said with polling day looming, it was a chance for the council to advocate to candidates about what projects mattered for the region.

"We did discuss whether we should prioritise these, but when we push and advocate with different ministers and government departments we need to be able to pick what we want to advocate for at that time," Cr Dobie said.

"They're changing all the time and the range of projects we've included is quite phenomenal, from cluster fencing at Morgan Park to a road safety highway taskforce.

"Our highest priority though, is water security as it is the most crucial to the longevity of our region."

SDRC is also pushing for funding for a campaign to attract more people to more than 700 jobs for the Southern Downs over the next few years.

Warwick Chamber of Commerce president Julia Keogh said the chamber supported the council in its push for the decentralisation of state and federal government services.

She said it the move would help build business confidence and grow jobs for the region.

"If a state government got behind the federal government to help shift government services to the region it would be a huge boost," Ms Keogh said.

"There are a number of different programs and government departments that could be run out of a regional location quite successfully, so it's time to look at less urbanisation and more regionalisation."

Cr Dobie said the council would also advocate four-year infrastructure projects to help local governments effectively plan projects and upgrades.

"We rely on state and federal government funding and with Financial Assistance Grants we know when that is coming in," she said. "If we were given a guarantee of funding over four years It would gives us clarity and make it much easier to plan capital works programs and upgrades," she said.

"One of the biggest benefits in the last two years has been the Works for Queensland Program. which allows each individual council to select projects to spend allocated funding on.

"It's allowed us to get up projects that we may not have been able to otherwise." and we know it has been of a huge benefit to other regional councils."

Independent Rob Mackenzie said he would back plans to secure more state funding for the region.

"It's important we're ensuring the councils get the infrastructure funding they need so they can use the rates to do their core business," Cr Mackenzie said.

Labor candidate Joel Richters and Greens candidate Antonia van Geuns said they did not necessarily agree with the decision by former Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce to hand over council funding for Emu Swamp Dam to the Stanthorpe Chamber of Commerce.

"Emu Swamp Dam is an important project but I think there needs to be the right safeguards in place and the assurances from the council about the quality of the water supply," Mr Richters said.

The council has also listed maintenance of rail links, extra funding for rabbit and dog fencing, a sewer solution for Allora, streetscape plans for Warwick and Stanthorpe, and a subsidised public bus service between Warwick and Brisbane among its priorities.

"The council should be able to do what they're there for."

"It's my opinion that the Chamber of Commerce does represent big business and a lot of lobby groups have been involved in conversations about where to put water storage," Ms van Geuns said.

"We need to be making sure there's a fair representation of all the community when it comes to the water needs of agriculture and urban consumers."

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