The DD&SWQ Council of Mayors have met for the first time since the local government elections earlier this year, with five new Mayors in the group

The Darling Downs and South West Queensland (DD&SWQ) Council of Mayors has resumed, with the group identifying a number of key issues for the broader region.

In meeting for the first time since the local government elections earlier this year, Chair Cr Paul Antonio, who also is the Toowoomba Region Mayor, welcomed five new Mayors to the group.

“This is an important strategic group and I’m pleased that all of our new Mayors are keen to be a part of this group which represents the interests of 10 local government areas from Toowoomba to the South Australian border and makes up one quarter of Queensland’s land area,” he said.

“Like with most meetings now, we had to meet online but it was great to see the unified response from everyone represented.

“One of the most pressing issues, for all our regions, is clearly the need for long-term water security.

“Some of our regions are on the brink of running out of water and the DD&SWQ Council of Mayors is eager to have a united approach on what our long-term vision should be.

“Options outside of the box, such as accessing water from northern New South Wales, need to be put on the table.

“I understand there are a number of obstacles we would need to overcome with doing something like this, but we have a group here all in the same position and we’re all willing to work together to look at how we can provide long-term water security for our areas.

“Last year I met with the Prime Minister on this topic and he asked me to come back with further detail.

“While the needs of the Toowoomba Region are important to me, having a cross-collaboration approach to water security for all 10 local government areas will no doubt hold much more weight with the Federal Government and be more beneficial to all of our areas.”

Other key topics at the DD&SWQ Council of Mayors catch-up included passenger/freight rail and transport infrastructure in general, telecommunication coverage in remote areas and post-COVID recovery.

“While the Federal Government recently announced the forecasted deficit this country will be facing this year, I’m confident we’re in a strong position to buck national trends,” Chair Antonio said.

“Fortunately Queensland has been less impacted than its southern states so far and this gives us a tremendous opportunity to grow our tourism market.

“With international travel on hold for most Australians, the drive market is key at the moment and we’re in an ideal position to capitalise on this.

“A large part of the money that would normally be spent on international travel will be spent on domestic travel instead and I believe the areas represented by DD&SWQ Council of Mayors will benefit from this.

“One trend we’ve noticed is that we’re beginning to see a different kind of tourist during this pandemic. Rather than visitors coming for a specific purpose, such as an annual event, they’re coming for a general visit and exploring all parts of the region which not only benefits tourism operators, but also local businesses and our overall economy so there are real opportunities for us at present.”

In addition to discussing the key issues for the DD&SWQ Council of Mayors, the group heard from a number of government and industry bodies during the meeting held on Friday 24 July.

The next meeting of the group is scheduled for Sunday 18 October.