Vic Pennisi, Director of Emu Swamp Dam Pty Ltd, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg with Brent Finlay, independent Chair of the Emu Swamp Dam Committee and Minister for Drought and Water Resources David Littleproud at the site of the proposed dam. The dam remains the only major development in the area on the horizon.
Vic Pennisi, Director of Emu Swamp Dam Pty Ltd, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg with Brent Finlay, independent Chair of the Emu Swamp Dam Committee and Minister for Drought and Water Resources David Littleproud at the site of the proposed dam. The dam remains the only major development in the area on the horizon.

Development at a stand still across the region

DROUGHT, fires and negative media coverage has compounded to stifle business development across the Granite Belt according to one organisations president.

Aside from Emu Swamp Dam’s proposed construction, no significant developments are in the pipeline across the area.

Stanthorpe and Granite Belt Chamber of Commerce president Graham Parker said several factors have led to a slow down.

“There’s no major projects that we are aware of at the moment. No major new developments or major redevelopments,” Mr Parker said.

“The only project that’s really ready to go is Emu Swamp Dam.

“That is actually a very key development to secure our water for the future that will in turn encourage development,” he said.

Mr Parker said news around drought and fires had potentially scared off developers.

“We need some positive media. We’ve received a lot of negative media across most platforms about the drought and the fires and the water carting.

“That kind of thing doesn’t encourage investment … quite the opposite.

“Our situation, while it’s bad, is not dire. We’ve got water coming out of the taps.

“People need to feel that if they invest here that there’ll be a future here longer term.”

Chamber continue to work behind the scenes to attract new development Mr Parker said.

“Once we see what kind of council and mayor we have after the elections, chamber will be more than happy to continue to work with council,” he said.

A Southern Downs Regional Council spokesperson said they have several strategies in place.

“Council’s Economic Development and Tourism team is currently working with many local

businesses to assist with expansion plans as well as new investment projects that will increase

employment across the region.

“In addition, council is working on projects that include strategies for: business retention, building capacity, improving business sustainability, investment attraction by targeting sectors and firms, conducting research and analysis, workforce skills development, advocating for infrastructure to support the Southern Downs economy, and creation and distribution of marketing collateral for investment attraction.”

Member for Southern Downs James Lister believes development processes need to be simplified.

“We have a first world standard of red tape which will lead us to a third world standard of living,” he said.

“It’s important if we’re serious about jobs and economic prosperity here to make it as easy as possible for people with legitimate developments to get the necessary approvals.

“I wonder how many mum and dad businesses out there don’t even bother applying because of the perception, perhaps justified, that it’s impossible to get development applications through.

“Obviously, some developments will be inappropriate or won’t suit the planning scheme, but I think it’s important that decisions are made in an open way and that the council doesn’t reject or approve applications that are inconsistent with the planning scheme.

“I’m not sure that’s always been the case.”