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Population in the North Burnett

Mayor’s Desk – 12 January 2017

Population… With the unsolicited debate over Syrian refugees raging in many households in the North Burnett this week, I feel I need to set the record straight. Media has latched onto this story as it’s controversial, topical and offers some good airtime however; there is not much of a story to be told.

We have merely contacted State and Federal Government to speak with us about this option. Thus far we have had no response and therefore no discussion with any State or Federal member in regards to this. There has been no community consultation as we have yet nothing to consult on. Further to this, just before Christmas the government announced they would only be rehoming Syrian refugees in Logan, Gold Coast, Toowoomba and Brisbane due to the services available in these areas.

Although this story has been blown out of proportion, there has been a valuable learning in it for me. I feel people don’t understand the reason we are investigating this (besides the fact, it was asked of us by community) and other options which may lead to an increase in our population. We have a predicted 0% population growth rate for the next 20 years. If this were to continue small businesses would struggle to remain open, schools would become stagnant, rates would continue to rise to pay for the infrastructure and our town facilities would continue to be underutilized. We need to turn this around. Any increase in population will stimulate the economy and bring about new jobs for the region. We need people (particularly families) and investment to make this region sustainable into the long term.

As councillors we are tasked with the responsibility to see the region not only survive but thrive – this is our job. Therefore, we will investigate every single way we could possibly make this happen. To leave any stone unturned would be inexcusable. In saying this, councillors are also responsible for making decisions on behalf of the majority – something we all take very seriously hence community consultation will always be sought on these types of matters.

Council is also very aware that jobs are the number one issue we have in attracting and retaining people to the region. Rest assured we are working every single day to find ways of job creation. The North Burnett is a beautiful, safe, innovative, productive and affordable place to live, work and play and your council is hard at work to keep it that way into the future.