Western Downs economy enjoys growth but roads struggle

GOOD AND BAD: Gas fields near Roma and Dalby bring more people and jobs to the town, to the detriment of local roads and rental prices. Hamish Broome
GOOD AND BAD: Gas fields near Roma and Dalby bring more people and jobs to the town, to the detriment of local roads and rental prices. Hamish Broome Hamish Broome

ON THE whole the gas industry has led a boom in the rural economies of Queensland's gas fields, although it hasn't been all rosy.

In the Western Downs Regional Council area around Dalby unemployment has dropped from 8% to 1.7% in five years.

Chinchilla's population rose from 3000 to 7000 in five years and has now hit almost 10,000 - although that includes fly-in, fly-out workers.

Queensland Gasfields commissioner and Western Downs Mayor Ray Brown said the "rural exodus" had come to an end.

"We are one of the very few areas in the whole of regional Australia where our agricultural population is not dropping," he said.

The council has negotiated agreements with the gas companies to cover roads, sewage and housing.

One gas company contributed $5.6 million to the council's affordable housing trust, while the town of Miles received a water and sewage network upgrade worth $1.29 million.

Shane Charles heads up the Toowoomba Surat Basin Enterprise, which has focused on getting local businesses to benefit from the gas industry.

Of its 400 members, 60% report they have direct work with the companies, from hospitality to mining engineering.

But the gas regions have seen some unforeseen negative impacts too.

Maranoa Regional councillor Ree Price said the industry had a huge effect on local roads.

Cr Price's local road had 750 vehicles every week - mostly trucks - on a road not designed for that level of traffic, leading to the roadside cracking.

Santos and Origin had funded a $1.5 million upgrade of the Roma airport to handle 90,000 people per annum but its throughput had blown out to 300,000, mostly FIFO workers.

The Northern Star also interviewed people on the streets of Dalby, Roma and Tara to ask them what impacts they had seen and felt.

One man from Dalby said the industry had brought more people to the area and was good for the town; that "people were spending money".

A female Roma resident, who grew up in the town and now worked for Santos, said the impacts had been mixed.

Rental prices had skyrocketed, while businesses had sometimes struggled to find employees who had jumped ship to the gas industry's higher wages.

One semi-retired grazier from Roma, Peter, said he wished there were wells on his property.

Topics:  csg economy queensland

One year on, we remember tragic loss of Rhys

Rhys McNaughton took his own life a year ago today. Photo: John Bortolin, Manscapes

New suicide prevention project begins

Turtle release turns into shark net debate

POINT OF VIEW: Marine ecologist Professor Daniel Bucher  speaks against shark nets at a rally in Ballina.

Kimba the turtle was released on Sunday

Local Partners

Check out some fashions from the Coast festival

FASHION: Ocean Zen range.

Images from the Sunshine Coast Fashion Festival show what's hot

Australian Survivor's magician Matt out of tricks

Australian Survivor contestant Matt Tarrant.

SHOW'S power couple looks unstoppable in race to the finish.

Top floor teams take out The Block's terrace week

Kim and Chris pictured on their winning outdoor terrace in a scene from The Block.

RIVALS Kim and Chris and Julia and Sasha tie in final week of work.

Bob Dylan slammed as 'arrogant' for Nobel silence

Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan.

Singer the controversial winner of literature Nobel

Shannen Doherty reveals fear of dying in post on chemo

Actor Shannen Doherty shared this image of her lying in a hospital bed after a chemotherapy session.

Actor has been fighting cancer since 2015

Eddie Redmayne's stage fright on latest Harry Potter film

Actor Eddie Redmayne stars in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Actor felt like kid again when he got to film with a wand

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.

Dusit Thani finance crisis 'just a small hiccup'

ON TRACK: Springfield Land Chairman, Maha Sinnathamby, Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale, Developer Richard Turner and Springfield Land Deputy Chairman, Bob Sharpless, at the recent resort sod turning ceremony.

Property developer says project remains firmly on track