Cr Denis Chapman, mayor Chris Loft, member for Hinkler Keith Pitt, Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders and Cr Darren Everard at the Howard Community Forum on Friday night.
Cr Denis Chapman, mayor Chris Loft, member for Hinkler Keith Pitt, Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders and Cr Darren Everard at the Howard Community Forum on Friday night. Contributed

Three tiers of govt face Howard's community questions

IT could only be called a historic moment for the small town of Howard; to see at least three different levels of government converge on the town to face the community's questions.

Fraser Coast mayor Chris Loft, councillors James Hansen, Darren Everard and Denis Chapman, Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders and member for Hinkler Keith Pitt were all questioned on issues which affected local residents, from NBN infrastructure to the town's sewage.

Friday night's meeting was the culmination of a community forum plan which Burrum District Communtiy Centre president Faye Whiffin had pushed for almost six weeks.

Crs Loft and Hansen were both quizzed about Howard's sewage infrastructure, to which they said there was action afoot.

"Late last year we were successful in securing $3.2 million of council money for the start of upgrades, and we lobbied the state government and they matched it - so we now have over $6 million to roll out sewage across town," Cr Hansen said.

"It's only going to do the commercial parts, but it's certainly a start.

Residents also asked a number of questions to Mr Pitt, who spoke of the rollout of NBN across the region and what the recent issue of 457 Visas would mean for the region.

Mr Saunders took the time to address questions of a high school in the local town, stating it would be factored in with the growth of the town.

"We are working on the high school - we're looking at numbers, there's a lot to go through and how we can do it," he said.

"As a state government, we've injected more money into the Burrum district that's ever been injected into the history of this area...the high school in Howard will be factored into that future growth.

Howard and District Progress Association president Ricky Rowland said the message from the night was clear; Howard needed better sewage infrastructure, and fast.

"It was an excellent opportunity for members of the community of Howard, Torbanlea and surrounding areas to come in here and meet all levels of government in the one-stop shop," he said.

"It was absolutely terrific...I believe this is the start of a future program that will go out through the regions, not only through the Fraser Coast area, but I can see it being adopted across Queensland."

"We are looking forward to the issue of draining and sewage being addressed in Howard, with the money coming through from the state government, it's encouraging council to take on bigger and more beneficial infrastructure projects."

Ms Whiffin said the forum opened up the potential to have more consultation with individual politicians on a later basis.

"We'd love to hold more of these forums; it could also lead to one-on-one sessions with each level of government," she said.

"Tonight was a little bit of enlightenment, because you can hear the other side. And quite often people don't ever get the chance to hear what a politician's got to say, never mind all levels of government."



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