Gladstone Mayor Gail Sellers speaks at a workshop to gather community input on the council's economic development strategy, on Monday night.
Gladstone Mayor Gail Sellers speaks at a workshop to gather community input on the council's economic development strategy, on Monday night. Helen Spelitis

Council keen to set up paid economic advisory board

BUSINESS people, residents and industry leaders are asking who the shot callers are on Gladstone's economic future after a workshop on Monday night.

The economic vision for Gladstone Regional Council, explained at a workshop last night, includes setting up a new advisory board with paid positions.

But the prospect of paying a board for advice raised concerns it would just become a "talkfest". 

>> Gladstone to have diverse economy in future

The council's principal industry advisor Fred de Waard said the new board, the Economic Futures Group, would be a collective of experts providing advice on different projects.

He said the council would play a lead role in facilitating those projects, but explicitly stated it would not be the ultimate decision maker, and neither would the new Economic Futures Group board.

Instead, each project would have a lead agency, and for each project that lead agency would assume responsibility.

Jeremy Hastings said the lack of one clear decision maker could lead to finger pointing.

"In this model it seems nobody is held accountable to an outcome," Mr Hastings said.

"If the council is the leader, then it should be held accountable.

"I am concerned this model could become a talkfest, where everyone is talking to everyone and no one is actually doing anything.

"We don't need a culture of everyone pointing the finger and saying 'no I am not responsible for that one' instead of delivering an outcome."

I am concerned this model could become a talkfest, where everyone is talking to everyone and no one is actually doing anything

But the council defended its framework, saying one agency would never take responsibility for the entire region's economic development.

Instead, Mr de Waard argued, the framework itself would make the decisions using a scorecard to rate the value of each project.

Key points from the discussion;

  • Broadband coverage is key to growing small business, particularly in rural areas.
  • Developing infrastructure such as roads in the Gladstone State Development Area is key to attracting new industry
  • Pre-logement meetings combined with early and frequent contact between the council and those submitting development applications reduces the time it takes to approve new developments.

The council's draft economic development strategy report is available here.



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