Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey and Burnett Mary Regional Group chief executive Sheila Charlesworth discuss their plans for the region.
Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey and Burnett Mary Regional Group chief executive Sheila Charlesworth discuss their plans for the region.

BMRG plans transition to smart farm facility

BURNETT Mary Regional Group is finalising a contract to lease part of the Bargara Ag Tech Facility.

The former administration building in Hughes Rd is owned by the Bundaberg Regional Council, which yesterday gave its chief executive approval to confirm a five-year lease agreement with BMRG.

Both parties see advantage in the lease of the facility, which is intended to be used as a hub for agricultural innovation which has come about as part of the Federal Government’s Hinkler Regional Deal.

Bundaberg chief executive Stephen Johnston said “it’s a great fit” but that he needed to confirm the contract with BMRG chief executive Sheila Charlesworth within the next few days.

Mr Johnston said it was important that the building generated income, because otherwise it could be considered a “white elephant” following the council’s decision to relocate staff to the central business district.

“So it’s important we get a tenant in there,” he said.

“We’ve obviously got a lot of synergies with some of the BMRG guys, particularly in the environmental space.

“We’d obviously look at that on a case-by-case basis.”

BMRG chief executive Sheila Charlesworth said it planned on moving into the facility in July.

She looked forward to being part of a consortium of agricultural enterprises which would help Bundaberg become a national centre of agricultural technology.

“Our agricultural sector generates significant economic activity and employment and continues to be supported by an array of service industries, research providers and industry advocacy groups,” she said.

“BMRG already collaborates with many of these organisations and our integration within the Ag Tech Facility will enable us to work with an even broader range of agricultural innovators and researchers from across Australia and overseas.”

She said the building would allow increase opportunities to host community events.

Division 5 councillor Greg Barnes said the council wanted to develop “synergies” between agricultural businesses.

“Having the BMRG in there would certainly be consistent with that use,” he said.

“There’s a whole heap of other opportunities there too.

“Personally, I’d like to see a food testing facility, something like that, I think there’s an opportunity there.”