This week Cr Nigel Hutton, in his capacity as Acting Mayor, was overwhelmingly supported with a motion he put forward to formally invite both Minister for Defence, the Hon. Linda Reynolds and Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon. Melissa Price MP to visit the Capricorn Coast Region.
The visit would provide an opportunity to discuss the establishment of new job creating defence industries in conjunction with the further development and expansion of Shoalwater Bay Training Area.
Importantly, Council also resolved to seek the support of Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry MP to help highlight to the two new Ministers the impacts the current substantial Australian Defence Force (ADF) land acquisitions will have on our Shire’s economy and ratepayers.
Prior to the latest round of acquisitions ADF occupied approximately 24.7% of the shire’s landmass. That percentage is now likely to exceed 33% of the Shire’s land mass as further acquisitions continue to be made.
Given the Federal Government is not required to pay rates or provide any level of compensation to our Shire, in dollar terms, the total loss of annual rate revenue on that amount of land will be in excess of $2 million. Effectively, that means every ratepayer in our Shire will be required to make up that revenue shortfall unless we can get the support of the Federal Government to address this unfair anomaly.
The other major economic impacts will be an estimated $35 million dollar loss from our regional beef industry sector with ADF acquiring such a large proportion of our most productive grazing land. This will also directly impact on the long-term economic viability of the Stanage Bay, Marlborough and Ogmore communities due to the significant loss of community members and revenue from those areas.
Council and our community has always supported ADF and the national interest in respect to defence training and support of traditional allies including the US and Singapore. The primary issue, and what must be acknowledged and addressed, is the long-term direct financial impact on Livingstone ratepayers and businesses if the Federal Government does not provide appropriate measures to mitigate those impacts.
While is certainly likely to be some major positives for local contractors in the short-term during the construction phase, without the establishment of Defence industry in Livingstone to offset the longer-term economic losses our community will inevitably be worse off.
Through the timely provision of investment initiatives and secondary defence industry development opportunities to support and grow localised employment, the significant social and financial impacts can certainly be mitigated. These opportunities can be further enhanced and advanced in partnership with LSC to generate win-win benefits flowing from investment within the strategically placed Gateway Business and Industry Park which is directly located along the SWBTA ‘Blue Route’ Access.
Council would certainly like to acknowledge Michelle Landry’s successful efforts in finally securing the $21.6 million in funding to undertake the critical first stage of the Stanage Bay Road upgrades.
The message we now need her to help Canberra take on board is the absolute need to focus on working with Council, the business sector and our community to create a regional defence industry hub and secondary industry support here in Central Queensland.
If ever there was a time for all levels of government and our respective elected Federal and State representatives to work together to promote our communities capacity to develop and host complimentary new business development opportunities in the area of defence industries, that time is now.