From the Mayor's Desk - 17 January 2023« Back
Looking ahead to 2023: Council continues a proactive approach to rental pressures, energy opportunities, and prioritises flood-damaged road repairs
I start my first column for 2023 with the news that Goondiwindi Regional Council is the first local government in Queensland to offer a comprehensive package of incentives for investment in the construction of new multi-dwellings to relieve pressure on a tight rental market.
Council is introducing a rebate for all Council fees and charges (e.g. planning, building, water and sewerage fees) associated with constructing new multi-dwelling buildings, including duplexes, granny flats, units and townhouses, built within the existing Council water and sewerage infrastructure in the Goondiwindi Region. To be eligible, the building application must be received and approved between 3 January - 31 December 2023, with construction completed and certified before 31 December 2025.
Council is doing all it can to encourage private sector development in the region to relieve rental pressure. We believe this initiative will provide opportunities for more critical rental accommodation for locals, and also attract essential workers to the region.
Interested people should contact Council in the first instance at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07 4671 7400.
Last week, it was my pleasure to meet with the Director-General of the Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, Mike Kaiser, to discuss a number of issues and opportunities, including the importance of cross-border coordination between Queensland and New South Wales agencies. The Director-General was greatly helpful last year in coordinating the attendance of senior Queensland government officials at critical meetings with authorities from NSW in relation to cross-border crime, and I wish to thank him for his assistance.
Housing pressure is a major topic facing our cross-border community. The Director-General was greatly pleased to hear of Council’s incentive for new multi-dwelling construction and, like me, is hopeful that other councils across Queensland may adopt similar incentives.
Pioneering energy projects in 2023 – from wind to hydrogen
In 2023, Council will join with counterparts across Queensland to seek meaningful commitments to long-term community co-investment from major renewable energy projects.
This is particularly important for the Goondiwindi Region, given that we are currently at the epicentre of the largest wind farm development in the southern hemisphere, with the Queensland Government announcing in November that the MacIntyre Wind Precinct is about to be doubled in size. (As a state strategic initiative, Council has no jurisdiction for approval or conditions of this expansion.)
Last week, I also had the opportunity to visit the Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT’s) prototype renewable hydrogen plant at the Redlands Research Facility, which was most informative. There is little doubt that Hydrogen will form a major part of future energy needs globally, but much more work needs to be done in commercialisation and research.
Through partnerships including QUT, our Council is pioneering the Goondiwindi Hydrogen Project, which aims to utilise local wastewater for the production of hydrogen and oxygen for direct reinjection into our wastewater treatment plant (WTP). If successful, this will be a national first and will not only extend the life of the WTP and increase its capacity, but also save ratepayers millions of dollars in otherwise-necessary upgrades in the future.
Prioritising road repairs
Road repairs will continue to be a huge priority for Council in 2023, after two years of severe wet weather have caused an estimated $90 million in damage on our roads. Council will be working with numerous external contractors to carry out flood-damaged road repairs across the region. I thank residents for their patience as we continue to work hard to improve local road conditions.
Inglewood Aged Care Update
Over to Inglewood now, where I look forward to the first 2023 meeting of the Inglewood Aged Care Committee in early February. As a reminder, the Committee has settled on a final design for the former ‘Casa Mia’ aged care facility to convert the building into independent or assisted living units.
Council has committed $500,000 towards the redevelopment, which is estimated to cost about $2 million. Council is now waiting for a response from the Queensland Government regarding a funding partnership. I also raised this important community project with Mr Kaiser during our meeting. External funding support is essential to deliver this initiative to the community - more updates to follow.