THE BACKGROUND to this story is that there is a labour shortage in western towns, yet there is very little support from government — it’s always city first. There’s only tokenism.
Some of these jobs are high profile, and the beauty of them is they aren’t in congested cities — they are in the wide open space where rural living is an attractive option to the city.
At a recent meeting in Longreach, local tourism operators — big businesses that are tourism drawcards — lamented the fact they can’t get good staff. They are looking to tapping the backpacker market — an alternative.
Today (Monday) Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce travelled to Longreach to announce more than $27 million to assist the Qantas Founders Museum and Stockman’s Hall of Fame to become of such high standards that they will attract tourists from across the globe. There are some Longreach tourism operators who are working outside the square to attract increased tourism.
And from April next year, Winton, the home of Waltzing Matilda, our national tune, will witness the re-opening of the Waltzing Matilda Centre, that was some years ago destroyed by fire, along with some treasured artefacts and history.
Today is the beginning of the future of the Central West — it’s a buoyant region that hasn’t yet realised its true value to Australia — in sheep and tourism — yet tourism may be the new sheep’s back.
THE CANBERRA MALAISE has struck rural Queensland once again — the people of the national capital are so cloistered in their own little world where the rest of Australia throws money at their indulgent lifestyles that they forget the rest of the nation exists — and even this morning Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce was unwittingly caught-up in this syndrome.
On Monday morning Barnaby Joyce flew into Longreach to make a major announcement that has since thrown the drought-affected western town into rapture; it comes at a time when the locals look skywards for signs of rains on a daily basis — yet from the sky came more than $25 million in the form of federal government support in the 2017-18 mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.
Apart from having the usual suspects in the entourage, including Deputy Leader of the National Party, Senator Bridget McKenzie, and Member for Maranoa, David Littleproud, the good old National (Country) Party decided to treat the city media to a junket to Longreach — yet they forgot to give advance notice to the Longreach Leader, the local newspaper, and ABC Western.
It was back in October that Col Jackson interviewed Federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann in the Qantas Founders Museum at Longreach. At the behest of board members of the Stockman’s Hall of Fame, Western Australian Senator and Minister for Finance in the Australian Parliament, Mathias Cormann, paid a two-day visit to Longreach. It was his first visit to the Central West.
Elected to the Upper House in June 2007, Senator Cormann admitted that it was his first ever visit to the Central West, and it was due to lobbying from the locals while in Darwin that he decided on the impromptu visit.
The following morning he met with members of the Longreach Regional Council over breakfast, before travelling to the Longreach Pastoral College, which recently celebrated its fiftieth anniversary.
Later, at the Qantas Founders Museum, he met with museum director David Fysh, curator and historian Tom Harwood and finance and administration manager, Alleyne Johnson.
While touring the museum, Col Jackson was able to discuss some important issues of concern to locals with Senator Cormann, rather than national and international issues.
“This is the real Queensland,” he said glowingly, showing a remarkable understanding of the area. There is no doubt he would have had many people in the previous 24 hours, including Mayor Ed Warren, proclaiming the benefits of the Central West.
He also appreciated there were moves to bring the sheep era back to the region.
Senator Cormann said the region had been through a tough drought, and acknowledged that more had to be done to build on what has already been done in recent years.
Yet, as is his wont, Senator Cormann was reticent to say if he had any firm ideas for the region, suffice to say he “has a list of ideas to take back to Canberra.”
According the Maranoa MP, David Littleproud, since the Senator’s initial visit, he has become more intensely aware of the opportunities available to the Central West, even though it is going through a severe drought.
“While in Longreach, Senator Cormann had gained an appreciation of the importance to the town of both the Stockman’s Hall of Fame and the Qantas Founders Museum, and we have since discussed this,” Mr Littleproud said.
The Deputy Prime Minister announced that in the 2017-18 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook will be an allocation of $11.3 million to upgrade the Qantas Founders Museum, which will protect planes on display from the weather elements. It is estimate to create 64 new local jobs.
“This long-awaited upgrade is being delivered in conjunction with the Museum’s proposed new venture, Luminescent Longreach — a light and sound show that will utilise the floor, walls and aircraft in the new structure to tell how the past has created the future.”
David Littleproud advised that Luminscent Longreach would operate all year-round, providing a major addition to Central Queensland’s tourism attractions.
Mr Joyce also announced another $15 million in MYEFO to upgrade the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame.
“In October 2016 we re-opened the Stockman’s Hall of Fame following a $5 million upgrade fully funded by the Australian Government, which included a new interactive Indigenous Heritage Display and restoration of Dr Yaetes Cottage,” Mr Joyce said.
“This additional funding will enable the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre to operate 12 months a year rather than as a seasonal business.”
The project is being jointly funded by the Coalition Government investing $15 million and the Australian Rural Heritage Foundation Ltd, investing $5 million.
- More to come.