12 August 2020. By AgForce General President Georgie Somerset.

Like me, I'm sure you were floored by media reports this week that the Department of Agriculture & Fisheries has further reduced face-to-face services in regional Queensland.

Under cover of COVID protocols, DAF has reduced the opening hours of its regional offices and instructed staff to basically hide from customers outside these times - or for any other reason.

On seeing the news, I called Agriculture Minister Mark Furner to express our concerns. He was as surprised as I was and promised to look into what appears to be a bureaucratic decision.

I believe the minister will be good to his word and address the issue.

But it's just another example of a fundamental problem: the ongoing incremental reduction in essential services in regional Queensland. Each small cut may seem minimal, but over time they create a serious problem.

Regional, rural and remote Australians on average have shorter lives, higher levels of disease and injury, poorer access to health services, fewer education and employment options, poorer housing, and less connectivity than urban Australians.

Maybe we are victims of our own strong character - our resilience, self-reliance and 'just get on with it' attitude mask our great need for support and services.

But Queensland needs this to be reversed.
Additional investment in regional areas will create stronger, smarter, more sustainable and more cohesive communities with increased liveability, productivity and employment.

Investment in these programs may seem expensive - but like all good investments, they will pay big dividends in the future.

Strong, growing and proud regional communities can continue to be the bedrock on which a strong, growing Queensland can be based.