Photo Mike Richards / The Observer
Photo Mike Richards / The Observer Mike Richards GLA100314ASSU

'Anything for jobs': Mayor wants major department in Gladstone

"EVERYTHING and anything if it will create jobs for the region."

These were the words Gladstone Regional Mayor Matt Burnett used when asked what government agencies he would like to see relocate to Gladstone, as part of the Senate inquiry into moving jobs to regional Australia.

The Federal Government has called on councils, chamber of commerces and community organisation in rural Australia to make a submission into relocating corporate Commonwealth entities to their towns.

While Cr Burnett said the council would welcome any agency with open arms, there were many "obvious choices" for Gladstone.

"There's no reason why we couldn't house the Department of Agriculture, I mean, that's a no-brainer," he said.

"Gladstone is the economic heart of central Queensland, so another obvious choice would be any department working with ports and shipping.

"We have one of Australia's greatest harbours, why would you relocate anywhere else?"

Matt Burnett, Mayor of the Gladstone region
Matt Burnett, Mayor of the Gladstone region The Observer

Cr Burnett said he would be keen to see any kind of regional development agency, as well as any department for Northern Queensland.

"And we as a local government already provide a number of state and federal services here, including Centrelink, Medibank, Medicare and more. There would be no issues between levels of government, we would work together harmoniously," he said.

So much so, Cr Burnett said he would happily have councillors and staff within these agencies all "squeeze into the one building" if it meant more jobs.

"Council owns three buildings on Goondoon St, and I would empty them to make room for these agencies if need be, even if we were all under the same roof."

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce said now was the time to get engaged in the conversation of "decentralisation".

"Which is growing jobs into regional Australia and relocating government agencies out of major cities," he said.

"Every town that has ever wanted Centrelink or a tax office, every town that has ever wanted a Centre of Excellence, every town that has wanted an agency such as the Grains Research and Development Corporation or the Murray Darling Basin Authority, now is the time to make your bid.

"Every council, Chamber of Commerce, CWA and community association in every regional town is invited to make a submission to this inquiry, to tell Canberra and the Labor Party, why regional Australia deserves Commonwealth agencies bringing well-paid, skilled jobs to your area.

"Your views must be made clear in this inquiry or they will be at risk."

Minister Joyce said decentralisation saved millions of dollars in rent for organisations.



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