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Coordinator-General visit to North Queensland

Monday, November 23, 2020

National Drought and Flood Coordinator-General Shane Stone and Agency staff recently returned from a trip through North and North West Queensland, to talk to people about the long-term recovery strategy – a blueprint for the region’s economic, social and environmental recovery and future prosperity following the 2019 flood event.

Read about the long-term recovery strategy here.

The wide-ranging trip took in the cities and towns of Townsville, Ayr, Ingham, Georgetown, Normanton, Karumba, Burketown, Four Ways, Cloncurry, Julia Creek, Richmond, Hughenden, Longreach, Roma and Winton, which were some of the hardest hit during the event.

Shane and the team met with Mayors and Counsellors, primary producers, Natural Resource Managers, small business owners and other community members to get an update on recovery, betterment and diversification projects, and discuss issues such as connectivity. The strategy was warmly welcomed by councils and reaffirmed the Australian Government’s long-term commitment to the region.

The trip was also an opportunity to let Councils know about the $58 million the Australian Government has allocated for five grant programs, which kick-start the strategy’s implementation and assist in the long-term recovery of the 14 worst affected Local Government Areas.  This funding will be available shortly.

The team met with staff from Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Rural Financial Counselling Service, AgForce and representatives from the Gulf Cattleman's Association, who have reported strong interest in the $400,000 dollar-for-dollar Restocking Replanting and On-Farm Infrastructure grants leading into this wet season.

In Ayr, they looked over disaster recovery funded repairs to parts of the Burdekin riverbank damaged in the flood. Further north in the Ingham region they learnt about dry land rice and soybean trials.

The issue of connectivity was regularly raised throughout the trip. People were keen to talk about the need for reliable phone, internet, road and rail networks and other infrastructure key to the sustainability of remote communities and essential to unlocking wider economic opportunities in the North.

In Cloncurry, the team discussed a network connectivity plan which would link properties from Cloncurry to Normanton.  They met with Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz MP near the town of Hughenden and viewed the progress on the Kennedy Developmental Road upgrade, which will improve freight reliability and efficiency for North Queensland.

The trip finished up in Winton, where Mayor and Advisory Board member Gavin Baskett showed the team the new facilities at Corfield Racecourse and the loading ramp at the Winton Sale Yards. Both projects were supported by the Australian Government’s Drought Communities Programme. The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum provided them with a great example of how the town is diversifying its local economy.

Shane and Agency staff would like to thank the people and organisations they met along the way and who have contributed to the long-term recovery strategy.  This year’s travel restrictions have meant the trip was a long time coming, and it was great to reconnect with these communities and assure them that they had not been forgotten.

You can read more about the long term strategy and stories about the regions’ ongoing recovery here.

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