Regional Queensland Council of Mayors meets Senator Bridget McKenzie

Published: 08 Apr 2022

Chair of the Regional Queensland Council of Mayors (RQCOM), Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson, has met with Senator Bridget McKenzie to discuss issues affecting regional Queenslanders.

Mayor Williamson said establishing a dialogue between the Regional Queensland Council of Mayors and Senator McKenzie was an important step in getting an understanding of the issues affecting regional Queenslanders to Canberra.

“This is an opportunity for us to have the voice of regional Queensland heard at the Federal Cabinet table,” he said.

The next step is for us to have key Regional Queensland Mayors meet with the Minister, so she can hear first-hand some of the challenges we are having in, and some of the solutions that could be progressed with federal support.

Senator McKenzie is the Minister for Emergency Management and National Recovery and Resilience, Minister for Regionalisation, Regional Communications and Regional Education

Mayor Williamson said such a meeting would be an opportunity for the Minister to hear firsthand some of the solutions regional communities had ready to fund in areas, such as internet and mobile connectivity, water and energy security, education and skills training, freight, transport, and tourism support.

“There’s a whole host of issues our member Mayors would like to raise face-to-face with the Minister and this forum will provide them the opportunity to do so,” he said.

“Regional Mayors want to get some rubber on the road when it comes to Federal funding for key projects.

“We’re looking forward to working with the Federal Government to champion projects that will bring real change to the lives of regional Queenslanders.

“We’re talking about projects that will provide employment pathways for young regional Queenslanders without the need to go to the city and creating regional centres of excellence across a variety of industries.”

Mayor Williamson said he and Senator McKenzie also discussed the issues of housing availability, diversity, and affordability – a huge issue in attracting and retaining skilled workers in regional areas.

“We also discussed some of the difficulties that regional communities have had accessing the Emergency Relief Fund, which is set up to fund disaster recovery and mitigation, and we look forward to Minister McKenzie and her colleagues meeting with Mayors with shovel-ready emergency response and natural disaster recovery and preparedness projects to fund,” he said.

“Many of our regional Mayors already have solutions to the challenges of regional life, so we look forward to getting our Mayors in front of the Minister to set out some of the work that has already been done, and to make it clear how the Commonwealth can best support regional Queenslanders.

“In many regional areas, we have such poor Internet and mobile connectivity that it’s impossible to even conduct telehealth or business with any level of certainty.

“Not only do many of our regional areas not have access to adequate health services, but internet connectivity is so poor even telehealth appointments aren’t a reliable option.

“When it comes to the services, regional Queenslanders are forced to put up with it. People in the city just wouldn’t cop it and regional Queenslanders shouldn’t have to either.”

Mayor Williamson said he looked forward to working with Senator McKenzie to ensure the voices of regional Queenslanders were heard in the corridors in Canberra.