News

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




BALI MURDER: Sara Connor's ex-husband to visit her in prison

Sara Connor was accused of murdering a Bali police officer.

Accused murderer Sara Connor to get one of her first visits in jail

Three winched to safety as boat capsizes off North Coast

The rescue at Evans Head yesterday. Photo: Bill Wardrobe

Three people have had a lucky escape

Council refuses to finance construction of long-awaited cafe

Concept design for the planned Shelly's on the Beach cafe, by Archimages Architecture.

Five years and counting for construction to begin on cafe.

Latest deals and offers

VIDEO: What did Thor do during Captain America: Civil War?

Short explains why Thor wasn't in Civil War film.

Hilarious mockumentary features star of the film Chris Hemsworth

Meet Toowoomba's top exotic dancer

WINNERS ARE GRINNERS: Exotic dancers (from left) Alice Morgan, Celeste and Frenchie are heading to the United States after competing in Miss Vault 2017.

Dancers vie for top spot at Toowoomba's only strip club

That's a wrap: Gympie Muster celebrates 35 years in style

Caitlyn Shadbolt performs at the Muster Club on Sunday August 28 at the Gympie Muster.

Country music festival blessed with great weather and bumper crowds

Julia and Sasha top The Block's leaderboard

Julia and Sasha in their winning master en-suite in a scene from The Block.

FIRST room reveals of the season deliver mixed results.

New music: The legacy of the thunder

Artwork for Celtic Thunder Legacy Volume 2.

Anticipated follow-up album to the chart-topping Legacy, Volume One

Deborah Conway: A String of Pearls, after 25 years

PARTNERS IN MUSIC: Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier are releasing their latest album, Everybody is Begging (2016).

Deborah Conway celebrates 25th anniversary of release

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

Investors eye Gladstone's $4m island with resort approval

UP FOR SALE: Turtle Island is on the market.

CHINESE and Sydney investors flag interest in Gladstone island.

Take a sneak peek at this $19m Whitsunday mansion

Mandalay House features a private helipad.

Mandalay is currently on the market with an asking price of $19m