Tarong Power Station is a major employer in the South Burnett.
Tarong Power Station is a major employer in the South Burnett. Katherine Morris

How we will stay standing after Tarong and Meandu close

SOME economy-driving businesses do not last forever and the South Burnett community is working to ensure its future is safe.

Businesses such as the Tarong Power Station and Meandu Mine have a limited life span.

Knowing these businesses will close one day the South Burnett Regional Council has begun looking at options.

Both businesses are major employers in the South Burnett and although there are no closure dates proposed, there will eventually be a transition back to major economic drivers such as tourism and primary industries.

Mayor Keith Campbell said the council was working closely with the Queensland Government and industry to plan for transitioning the region's economic drivers.

"Projects including the government-funded water study, critical infrastructure development and enabling investment from public and private interests are key in a transitioning economy,” he said.

Cr Campbell said it was important to note there had been no advice received in regards to a proposed closure of Tarong.

"Given this advice it allows for a very long lead time for future planning if any closure be proposed for the future,” he said.

The council has recently reviewed documentation identifying the actions and reactions which occurred in the Latrobe Valley.

The Latrobe Valley community in Victoria struggled with the sudden closure of the nearby Hazelwood power station in March 2017.

According to the ABC, more than 700 jobs were lost as a result of the closure; as a result Latrobe Valley has one of Victoria's highest unemployment rates.

The Latrobe Valley economy also suffered with businesses struggling as workers left town to find employment after the closure.

The council is continuing to review the Latrobe Valley material.

"Each region has circumstances that make its economic and tourism environment unique,” Cr Campbell said.

"In defining strategies for regional tourism and economic development, lessons from other regions in Australia and overseas are reviewed along with opinions of local industry, business owners and visitors.”

It is expected agriculture and tourism will play a large role in strengthening the South Burnett economy moving forward.

"Tourism will continue to play a role in the regional economy and it is anticipated that tourism's economic contribution will continue to increase,” Cr Campbell said.

"A strong and diverse economy, defined through multiple industry contributors, will ensure economic sustainability for the region.”

Tourism's range of economic input differs from traditional industries with more structured supply chains and associated economic distribution.

An engagement framework with the community such as a tourism advisory committee could also add value to assist with regional tourism marketing activity in the transition.

"This option is in line with council's economic development strategy and will be further considered along with other industry engagement tools as part of the tourism review that council is undertaking,” Cr Campbell said.

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