Dec 05, 2019In The Community

Darling Downs Keeping its Head Above Dust

This article was originally published in Queensland Country Life.

As I drive through the region, the sight of brown plainlands, raised dust and a smoky haze is sombre. It’s no secret that this drought is catastrophic.

The Queensland government informs us that more than 65 per cent of Queensland remains drought-declared, with all of the Darling Downs region highlighted in the graphs released, and the outlook is continuing to look grim. In the face of this, it’s pleasing to witness the resilience of farming communities up against all these struggles.

When we look at the regional communities that Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise operates in, the diversity of those economies, with oil, gas and energy sectors, has meant that these towns are much more resilient in extreme conditions. This is thanks to the resource sector continuing investment. We are still seeing traffic flow through main streets and the supporting of local businesses.

We see accommodation companies remaining strong and operative. We have seen many of our farming colleagues in the region able to access compensation agreements with the gas companies to diversify their income, and the money has benefited regional economies.

Not everyone can access these opportunities directly, but on a macro sense we should acknowledge our leaders for developing strong frameworks that allow good coexistence. And the flow-on effects are that these large resource organisations are investing in the communities that they operate in.

Of course, this isn’t perfect all of the time. We must continue to work with farmers in the resource sector to ensure that we constantly are looking for ways to add value across both industries and continue to be resilient against drought.

There are a number of different examples of landholders progressing their business on the back of the financial boost that compensation provides. There are also several good news stories coming from businesses who have had new opportunities and the security to invest in new ideas and innovations.

Other businesses have diversified into manufacturing and business tourism to help provide additional income streams. This once again highlights the resilience of the region and the innovative ideas that can be used to keep their head above the dust.

– Bruce McConnel, general manager,
TSBE, Food Leaders Australia