WORKING TOGETHER: Mayors George Seymour of Fraser Coast, Mick Curran of Gympie, Jack Dempsey from Bundaberg, Rachel Chambers of North Burnett and Keith Campbell of the South Burnett joined forces to talk about economic development opportunities and plans for the Wide Bay Burnett region.
WORKING TOGETHER: Mayors George Seymour of Fraser Coast, Mick Curran of Gympie, Jack Dempsey from Bundaberg, Rachel Chambers of North Burnett and Keith Campbell of the South Burnett joined forces to talk about economic development opportunities and plans for the Wide Bay Burnett region. Contributed

Mayors outline plan to ditch high unemployment status

THE Wide Bay and Burnett region has the highest unemployment rate in the country for a population outside Southeast Queensland.

South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell said he wanted to reassure residents that councils in the South Burnett and wider region were working hard to tackle the title.

"I see it as a challenge to ensure that this region, from the South Burnett region perspective, doesn't just sit here and be relaxed about the statistics, but we try and do something about it,” Cr Campbell said.

Cr Campbell said council had recognised access to water was key to securing a positive future for the South Burnett.

"We see the need for water as one of the significant needs of the region in order to achieve our full potential in relation to agriculture, new industry and in relation to encouraging additional urban growth and development for new people that will come to the area,” he said.

Cr Campbell met with mayors from Gympie, the North Burnett, Fraser Coast, Gympie and Bundaberg on Tuesday to draft and adopt the Wide Bay Burnett Economic Development Strategy for 2019-2024.

The next stage will be implementing the plan which focuses on the future of food, agriculture, mining and particularly tourism industries as well as advanced manufacturing, healthcare and waste and materials efficiency.

"Part of the preparation for the new opportunities that will emerge will be to absorb the large slice of unemployment,” Cr Campbell said.

"Part of enabling and supporting infrastructure that needs to go with these initiatives is the issues of educational opportunities, better transportation and other types of utilities electricity.”

Having an economic plan for the Wide Bay Burnett, as well as one for the South Burnett will be more beneficial for residents in the long term, according to Cr Campbell.

"When we go to government at a federal or state level and we are representing a region of 300,00 people, and working together as one unified voice rather than us going as individual councils, we have a lot more political clout,” he said.

The Wide Bay and Burnett Economic Development Plan will be available to view in coming weeks.

South Burnett

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