Loss of service fear leads to Southern Gulf NRM merger rejection

Back to drawing board for Southern Gulf NRM after merger rejection

Agribusiness
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Concerns about services and organisations in Queensland's north west getting swallowed up and lost are what put the kybosh on the proposal to merge the Southern Gulf NRM with NQ Dry Tropics, according to Southern Gulf CEO Andrew Maclean.

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Concerns about services and organisations in Queensland's north west getting swallowed up and lost are what put the kybosh on the proposal to merge the Southern Gulf NRM with NQ Dry Tropics, according to Southern Gulf CEO Andrew Maclean.

After many months of public consultation and planning, the proposal was considered at the Southern Gulf annual general meeting in Cloncurry last week, where less than 50 per cent support was received.

Mr Maclean said the threshold would have been 75pc for the proposal to then have been considered by NQ Dry Tropics members, and so the merger will not proceed.

"We took into account the issues we were hearing around supplying programs in the southern Gulf but people had perceptions about the loss of regional leadership," he said.

"They saw it as another example of north west services drifting to the coast in general.

"It wouldn't have happened - there was no loss of staff and the same number of board members - but they have widespread concerns regarding services generally and this was a chance to express that view."

NQ Dry Tropics is eight times larger in resources than Southern Gulf NRM.

Ironically, an injection of funding from a number of sources - for the E-Beef Smart Farming Project, the Queensland Land Restoration Fund, and the flood recovery program - may have contributed to the feeling that there was no need to merge, Mr Maclean said.

"The initial impetus for the merge was around Southern Gulf's financial position, and we now have substantially improved revenues, thanks to these.

"But they are all short-term and will fall away, so we now need to secure greater independence in funding.

"To some extent we were a victim of our own success - people said there was no need to merge now, but it would have given us the opportunity to greatly increase our capacity."

The Southern Gulf NRM board will convene in the new year to begin development of an alternative strategy to ensure the company remains viable and effective in support of the community in the southern Gulf area.

"It's back to business for us," Mr Maclean said.

He added that in a sense he was glad members were protective of what they had, and said he was keen to see how they wanted to fashion a new future, considering that existing operating models were designed 20 years ago.

"This gives us a chance to have conversations around new beef models for global markets; we need to get ahead of that.

"We are absolutely tied in with the economic future of the beef industry - growing regional prosperity is a key part of our natural resources plan."

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