MAYOR BRISTLES AS BUNDY COMES UNDER ATTACK

Bundaberg Regional Council Mayor, Cr. Mal Forman has described as “Ill-informed”, “outdated” and “insensitive” comment contained in the Sunshine Coast Daily newspaper published last weekend.

The report, written by journalist Bill Hoffman and quoting an unnamed “social commentator”, described Bundaberg and the Wide Bay Burnett as “the most impoverished part of Australia”.

The commentator continued, “Education levels were among the lowest in the country, while the rate of STD’s, children born out of wedlock, the level of government handouts for social welfare and unemployment were also high by national standards.”

“The floods have been like ripping a bandaid off a scab,” said the commentator in reference to the regions socio-economic demographic.

Cr. Forman said he was annoyed, frustrated and bristling with indignation over the comments.

“You get a so-called nameless social commentator expressing opinion about this community during the height of a natural disaster and making assertions based on a cursory glance of our community and factored on information that is around 25 years old. It just lacks total credibility,” said Cr. Forman.

He said the social commentator’s remarks were supported by quotes from Association of Australian Psychology national president, Paul Stevenson OAM and former Bundaberg Labor Member Brian Courtice.

Mr. Courtice referred to the impact the closure of industries such as Massey Ferguson, Austoft, Humes Pipes, Petersen Brothers Sawmill and Wide Bay Brickworks had on the local community and economy.

“A lot of those businesses were closed more than 25 years ago. Our community has well and truly moved on from that era,” said Cr. Forman.

“If the social commentator and the others quoted  had bothered to source current information from Council I am certain they would have drawn an entirely different conclusion regarding the status of our economic viability but more importantly the standard of people who live and work in our community.”

“We could have informed them of the many positive stories to emerge following those years after businesses and industries were closed. The success of the Bundaberg Technology Park which now hosts businesses employing more skilled people than did Austoft when at its height of production is a clear example of this recovery. 

“Bundaberg is now an economy built on a diversity of industries with technology, manufacturing and agriculture progressing hand-in-hand to drive a multi-strand economy.

Unlike many other communities who are essentially built on a single economic activity, Bundaberg Region has a wide cross section of businesses established and expanding and with more looming on the horizon.”

Cr. Forman said in recent years industries like Tasman Warrajay, Australian Prime Fibres,  Longhorn Modular Accommodation Units and Auschilli had established across the region and were projecting   a clear message that Bundaberg was open for business and was the place to grow a business.

“We currently have a Gross Regional Product of around $3.7 billion and the future has never looked brighter for the Bundaberg Region,” he said.

“Recently Bundaberg was included in the top i0 most friendly communities and also in the top 50 desirable real estate locations.”

“For this “social commentator” and others to speak about our North Bundaberg residents as “they need to be lifted out of their hovels on the river and that area down-zoned” is demeaning and smacks of elitism,” said Cr. Forman.

“The message the wider media needs to understand is that while Bundaberg may be down, we are certainly not out!”

Date: 13-02-2013

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