Council calls for defence consideration in jobs push
BUNDABERG mayor Jack Dempsey has renewed his push for Defence infrastructure to come to the region in a submission to the Select Committee.
A number of other interesting concepts were mentioned in the submission, including the potential Bundaberg has to transition from an agricultural hub to a leading energy distributor.
Council's executive director for strategic projects and economic development, Ben Artup, said the submission was all about highlighting economic opportunities for the region.
"We've got our sugar industry becoming less viable, we're going to have to transition," Mr Artup said.
While there isn't a plan laid out in stone, Mr Artup said Bundaberg could conceptually transition into an ethanol-producing town, or a clean energy exporter.
The submission calls for support from the Federal Government for a "structural adjustment" package in Bundaberg.
"Without this support, it is believed many regional jobs will continue to be lost in our region," the submission from Council reads.
"Moreover, new job-generating, economic opportunities will be lost that could diversify our region's economy into higher value add products which have strong global demand."
While having Bundaberg become the production hub for racing fuel sounds fantastic for all the petrolheads in town, such a thing cannot happen without infrastructure and jobs in the region.
Mr Artup said a boost to the local population would be beneficial, but for the community to grow there first needed to be enough infrastructure, jobs, schools and public amenities to handle an influx of people.
"It is a little bit of a chicken and egg-type situation," he said.
Mr Artup said attracting people to regional areas was all well and good, "but you've got to bring the infrastructure".
He said a Council survey found about 10,000 people in Bundaberg completely disengaged from the workforce, but Council had been approved for a plan to lower these numbers.
Mr Artup said Council had been approved for some $200,000 through the Regional Employment Trials that would put staff on to engage specifically with people who have been disengaged from the workforce for a period of more than three years.
On the potential creation of job opportunities, Mr Artup said a number of local businesses were participating in Defence-ready programs.
Mr Artup said the economic benefits of involvement in the Defence industry could easily be overlooked.
"When Talisman Sabre was here they had 35,000 people parked out on boats," he said, pointing out that all the food, water and power came from local contractors.
The submission calls for the Department of Defence to consider Bundaberg Port as a potential site for a naval base for its climate and location suitability.
"The Bundaberg Port currently operates at less than five per cent of capacity with its owner, Gladstone Ports Corporation, holding no identified plan for its growth into the foreseeable future," the submission reads.
"Bundaberg Council has called for the Department of Defence to consider establishing a naval base a the Port of Bundaberg, particularly given the port is located outside the cyclone disaster zone and the Great Barrier Reef."