Cherbourg hosts forum tackling regional issues
"HAVING this kind of forum in Cherbourg for the first time ever was very special and means a lot to my people."
These were the words of Cherbourg mayor Arnold Murray about the second State Government Regional Community Forum for the Wide Bay, Burnett, Fraser Coast region.
Agribusiness, cultural and eco-tourism, and supporting small businesses were at the forefront of the discussion at Cherbourg today (Monday, February 24).
"It's only my second time being able to sit in on a forum like this and listen and contribute to ideas for our region," Mr Murray said.
"I love hearing all of the new ideas and ways to improve our community.
"Keith (South Burnett Regional Council mayor Keith Campbell) has been great with including us and our community.
"It's really good to hear from people with the expertise and to try to find ways to create more jobs here, because we need it," he said.
"We have come a long way but we still need a lot of help.
"I just want to see more opportunities for our younger generation here in Cherbourg and the South Burnett."
Keith Campbell said over the next 25 years it has been estimated the Wide Bay-Burnett population will grow by approximately 63,000.
"The point I made today is that we'd like to see this population shared and distributed throughout the entire region. Instead of just seeing a growth in Kingaroy," he said.
"This way Cherbourg and other smaller regional local towns will gain the benefit of a growing economy.
"However, to achieve that we really need to focus on creating new jobs, business opportunities, and tourism developments."
State MP for Maryborough Bruce Saunders chaired the Wide Bay, Burnett, Fraser Coast Forum.
Mr Saunders said it also meant a lot to him being able to travel to Cherbourg for the event.
"One of the main things I wanted to do through these forums was actually go to some of the small towns across the regions," Mr Saunders said.
"I wanted all of us to get out into rural parts of our regions and to give those living rurally more of a voice.
"We are here to listen to the people's concerns and to discuss how to move forward and create positive change."
Mr Saunders comes from a rural background himself, and said regional areas hold a special place in his heart.
"I'm from Longreach so it's especially important to me that rural voices are being heard," he said.
"I picked Cherbourg myself for this because I really wanted to visit and highlight the wonderful things that are happening here.
"It's been really lovely seeing the museum and talking to the Cherbourg and South Burnett mayors about what they have to offer here.
"They are in-tune with the locals and know what the community wants and needs. Which is great to see."
With the intention of creating more employment opportunities, developing the local economy, and transcending our tourism industries - regional services were a hot point of the discussion.
"Healthcare, allied health, health services, road networks, water security, connectivity, making sure small businesses have the internet access they need, and more was discussed," Mr Saunders said.
"Aboriginal tourism was also a large part. It is the year of indigenous tourism.
"This has also provided us with the opportunity to get our heads around and really see the real life difficulties Cherbourg and communities like it are facing as well as how far they've come and how they're making huge progress."
Following on from the forum Mr Saunders and Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Science and the Arts, Leeanne Enoch will be busying themselves collaborating all of the information to put forward to Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
"Minister Enoch sits at the cabinet tables. So everything worked through here today will be raised at the cabinet tables," Mr Saunders said.
"I will also be expressing what we have been picking up here to the premier and to various other ministers to say this is what we need in regional Queensland.
"So there will be action taken very soon."
The next forum will be held in Monto in May.