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Congratulations Maree ...
a South Burnett Woman Of Note!
January 26, 2012 - Congratulations to Maree Hammond, (right), from Blackbutt, who was named the South Burnett Citizen of the Year at last night's Australia Day awards ceremony at Murgon.

Maree and her husband Ned moved to Blackbutt in 1991 and she immediately became an active part of the local community.

She joined the QCWA, became a steward at the Blackbutt Show and hosted Cancer Fund morning teas in her garden. She also became active in the local Catholic community (her husband Ned started the St Vinnies shop at Yarraman).

However Maree is best known for founding the Blackbutt Singers.

When the group kicked off in 1991 there were just six members; now there are 20 regulars.

The singers - technically not a choir, because there is no conductor - have performed all over the South Burnett as well as at Maryborough, Caboolture, Haden, Brisbane and at the Toowoomba Heritage Show.

Members have also joined the Esk Choir on international and interstate performances. In 2006, three members toured Germany, Austria and Hungary. In 2008, four performed in Prague and in 2010 they joined the Esk Choir at the Sydney Opera House.

"Last year four members went to Italy and performed up and down the country, singing in the most amazing places," Maree said.

The Blackbutt Singers celebrated their 20th birthday on December 13 at the Maidenwell Hotel.

Maree thought it was just their regular Christmas break-up but the group sprang a surprise. They organised a "Maree Hammond - This Is Your Life" tribute with former members travelling long distances to attend.

Maree received another huge surprise when her name was read out last night at the South Burnett Regional Council Australia Day awards ceremony.

"I was frozen in my chair. It was a great surprise," she said.

Maree is always keen to welcome new singers to the group.

"Everyone is welcome who can hold a tune," she said. "We are a very happy group and we all become friends with each other. It's a good way for people new to the area to meet people and make friends."

The Blackbutt Singers' next practice session will be held on Tuesday, January 31, from 9:30am at the Memorial Hall in Browne Street, Yarraman.

ABOVE: Maree Hammond with Jeff Connor at the Blackbutt Australia Day Breakfast this morning
Council Elections Delayed To April 28
January 25, 2012 - Local Government Minister Paul Lucas announced this afternoon that the Council elections will now be held on April 28.

He said both the State Government and the Local Government Association of Queensland were keen to have the earliest possible date that did not clash with the State elections or with school holidays.

"On the other hand, we were both aware of the need to ensure that an extension to the election date allows sufficient flexibility for councils in framing their budgets," he said.

Mr Lucas said the new date was a 28-day extension on the previous date and was a date requested by the LGAQ.

"The government has agreed with the LGAQ that we will extend the deadline for the adoption of budgets from September 1, as is currently the case, by an additional 28 days to September 29.

"The Electoral Commission Queensland has been consulted in relation to the machinery aspects of the later date and has advised that it can accommodate the new date within its administrative processes.

"Essentially the ECQ will add 28 days onto existing timeframes so as to minimise any inconvenience.

"This means that the official calling of nominations for the council elections will take place on March 10 with councils to go into caretaker period on the same day.

"This new date allows for five weeks between the State and Local Government elections."

However electoral rolls for Local Government Elections would still close on January 31.

"If you've moved house, or will be 18 by April 28, it's important to ensure you are on the rolls so you are eligible to exercise your democratic right to vote," Mr Lucas said.

"Also, with council elections, you are only able to vote on the day if you are in your Local Government Area. If you are away, you need to organise in advance for a postal or pre-poll vote."
State Election Delays Council Poll
January 25, 2012 - Local Government Minister Paul Lucas is currently consulting with the Local Government Association of Queensland to fix a new date for the Council elections following the announcement by Premier Anna Bligh this morning that the State poll will be held on March 24.

The Council elections had been set for the following week, ie March 31.

A spokesman for the Electoral Commission of Queensland told SBBiz this morning that the new date would be either late April or early May.

A new date is expected to be announced this afternoon.

UPDATE 10:00am In a media statement, Premier Bligh said the new date for the Council poll would be agreed upon "before the end of this month".

Ms Bligh said a State election just one week prior to the scheduled Local Government elections would not be fair to local candidates or to the public.

"The LGAQ themselves have described the prospect of simultaneous State and local government campaigns as disastrous," she said.

"Local government is entitled to be consulted on this proposed change and I have instructed the Attorney-General and Minister for Local Government to do so today."

Ms Bligh said her government would enter caretaker mode on February 19.

SBBiz has been ringing ALP headquarters in Brisbane since November last year in a bid to find out who the party's candidate for the seat of Nanango will be. As of yesterday it appeared they still had not selected anyone (or if they had, they were keeping it a secret). If and when we can find out, we'll let you know ...

UPDATE 12:10pm - We've now been told the ALP will endorse a candidate for Nanango on Friday afternoon

* * *

Jason Shearer-Smith, from the Smithfield feedlot near Proston, has predicted another tough year for local lotfeeders.

Speaking to the Beef Central website, Jason said it would be very difficult for Australian grainfed beef to remain competitive in Japan, Korea or the United States because of the high Australian dollar.
* * *

Landcare South Burnett will be holding a free all-day Healthy Soils Workshop from 8:00am to 5:30pm at the Tansey Bowls Club on February 6.

The workshop, which is based on the GrazingForProfit School, will discuss sustainable farm practices and ways to increase groundcover to reduce erosion.

Numbers are limited. To book, contact Belinda Pennell on (07) 4168-6064 as soon as possible.
Local History Lost During Amalgamation
January 24, 2012 - An overlooked casualty of the council amalgamation has been the loss of the unique library names in local towns.

A telephone call to SBBiz this morning from a council staffer alerted us to the fact that there is no longer a "Col Morris Library" ... it is now simply Wondai Library.

Likewise, the "Dermot Tiernan Memorial Library" is now Murgon Library and the "T.J. O'Neill Memorial Library" is now just Kingaroy Library.

The SBBiz records have been updated but we can't help feel that we've lost a little bit of South Burnett history in the process.

For the record ...
  • Col Morris was Shire Clerk at Wondai from 1948 to 1975

  • T J O'Neill was Chairman of Kingaroy Shire from 1955-1965 and died while in office

  • Dermot Tiernan served on Murgon Shire Council for 22 years. He died in March 1993 after trying to intervene in a brawl on the footpath outside his Australian Hotel in Murgon. He received a posthumous bravery award for going to the aid of police.
Carter Confirms He Will Stand Again
January 24, 2012 - David Carter, (right), announced this morning on Facebook that he will re-contest the position of Mayor at the upcoming Council elections on March 31.

"I wish to announce that I will be standing for the position of Mayor in the upcoming Local Government Election," he said.

"I believe I have the proven skills, dedication, enthusiasm and extensive business and local government knowledge to take advantage of the financial stability and solid groundwork achieved over the past four years. I look forward to leading the South Burnett towards a bright and prosperous future."

David Carter was born and educated in Gympie and completed a Diesel Fitter apprenticeship with Widgee Shire Council. For many years he grew duboisia in the Boondooma area.

He was elected to Wondai Shire Council in 1994 and served as Deputy Mayor for nine years under Mayor Cr Percy Iszlaub; and then Mayor for four years after Cr Iszlaub retired.

At the first post-amalgamation election, he narrowly won the mayoral poll to be elected Mayor of the inaugural South Burnett Regional Council.
Council Calls For 2km Buffer Zone On Wind Farm
January 24, 2012 - The South Burnett Regional Council will urge the State Government to legislate to fix a 2km minimum buffer zone between residences and wind farm turbines.

At their January meeting, South Burnett councillors listened to an address from Paul Newman, a representative of residents concerned about the proposed windfarm at Coopers Gap.

They also considered a report from an acoustic consultant for the Flyers Creek wind farm in NSW.

Council noted that decisions about the Coopers Gap project rested with the State Government.

However councillors voted unanimously to write to Local Government Minister Paul Lucas stating that the project must comply with relevant noise legislation and Australian Standards in regards to environmental noise and reverberations. This letter would also request the 2km buffer zone.

A community meeting with representatives from the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM), organised by Member for Nanango Dorothy Pratt, will be held next week.

* * *
LNP Candidate for Nanango Deb Frecklington signed the pledge on Saturday ... in a form of a large mobile billboard, (right), which is travelling around Queensland.

The billboard lists the five items which LNP Leader Campbell Newman has pledged he will implement if elected, including lowering the cost of living for families and delivering better infrastructure.

All LNP candidates are being invited to sign up to the same pledge.

* * *

Mark your diaries! The South Burnett Regional Council's second annual business expo, this year dubbed South Burnett Exposed, will be held from Friday April 13 to Sunday April 15 in Kingaroy in conjunction with the annual Home Show.

South Burnett Exposed will provide networking opportunities and a series of workshops at the Kingaroy Town Hall. It is an initiative of the South Burnett Regional Council, local business associations, the Southern Queensland Institute of TAFE, DEEDI and CROW-FM.

For more information, contact Council's Business and Economic Development Unit on (07) 4189-9174.
Telstra's $166,000
Solution For Chahpingah
January 23, 2012 - The wait may soon be over for Chahpingah residents frustrated by frequent Telstra outages.

Phone lines were out-of-service on a number of occasions last year, including during the January floods when residents were isolated and relying on their landline phone service. Mobile phone coverage in the area is also poor.

South Burnett Regional Councillor Cheryl Dalton, (right), contacted Telstra on behalf of frustrated residents in October last year after the exchange failed again, seeking a permanent solution to the issue.

Telstra despatched a radio system technology expert to determine the cause of the outages and recommend a solution.

Area General Manager Nigel Beaman said on Friday that Telstra had now begun upgrading the network.

A radio link between Chahpingah and Chilton Hill is being upgraded with modern microwave digital equipment at a cost of $166,000.

The project was on track to being completed by the end of January or early February and would provide a much more reliable and stable phone service for local residents.

He said the problems were in the transmission system to the exchange rather than at the Chahpingah exchange itself.

The new equipment will be installed in parallel to the existing system and the switchover will occur at a time designed to cause minimum disruption.

UPDATE February 14: The work on replacing the radio link between Chahpingah and Chilton Hill has now been completed
Woman Burned As
Boat Catches Fire
January 21, 2011 - A 48-year-old Kingaroy woman has been airlifted to hospital after a ski boat burst into flames on Boondooma Dam today.

Emergency crews on the scene said the woman and her family had bought the secondhand ski boat just days ago and were taking it out for the first time.

A skier was in the water waiting to go when the boat seemed to backfire and catch alight. Two passengers jumped overboard. The woman who was driving also jumped out but was last into the water.

She was taken by ambulance to Proston Showground where she was transferred to the AGL Action Rescue Helicopter.

The helicopter's flight doctor and flight paramedic treated the woman for superficial burns to her arms and legs and also for a possible airway burn.

She was airlifted to the Royal Brisbane Hospital in a stable condition.

ABOVE RIGHT: The woman is comforted by friends before being placed into the helicopter at Proston Showground. [Photo courtesy AGL Action Rescue Helicopter]
Katter Wants To Build A Highway To Kingaroy
January 20, 2012 - A report in today's Sunshine Coast Daily suggesting that Katter's Australian Party wants to construct two new high-speed highways to Kingaroy is only partially right.

The newspaper reported Federal MP Bob Katter as saying: "We want to stop the rabbit warren in Brisbane and the way we do that is to build two major highways, one going straight west from Kingaroy and the other one coming down from Caboolture, through Woodford to Kingaroy."

The party's candidate for Nanango, Carl Rackemann, said the geography was "a bit mixed up" but the main thing was that the party wanted to connect Kingaroy to the Sunshine Coast with a new highway.

"I championed the road to the coast at my launch," Carl said.

He said the South Burnett was "landlocked" in terms of the Sunshine Coast.

"The concept is to encourage the decentralisation of the population but at the same time make the trip to Brisbane quicker.

"We want to open up these areas and the road to Kingaroy is one of these plans."

The proposed road would pass through the forestry areas north-east of Nanango heading towards Nambour.

On another matter, Carl told SBBiz that the party's policy, announced on Wednesday, to scrap the State Government's Year 7 high school transition scheme would save $620 million.

"We will hit that on the head completely," he said.

He said the scheme would have a particularly devastating effect on small country schools, which could close down completely when students numbers dropped. If they didn't close, they would lose teachers because of student / teacher ratios.

Kratzmann To Challenge For Mayor
January 19, 2012 - Well-known CROW-FM breakfast announcer Wayne Kratzmann, (right), has announced he will challenge Cr David Carter for the position of South Burnett Mayor at the March 31 Local Government elections.

Wayne, who is also General Manager at CROW-FM, has a strong background in Local Government as both an elected representative and as a council officer.

He was Deputy CEO at Wondai Shire Council for 25 years and Deputy Mayor from 2004 to 2008.

Wayne was born in Kingaroy and educated at Taabinga State School and Kingaroy State High School. After leaving school he worked as a clerk at the Kingaroy Courthouse and Murgon Courthouse.

He then joined Wondai Council as a payroll clerk and worked his way up the ranks to Deputy Shire Clerk (later Deputy CEO), a position he held until 2003 when he resigned and purchased the Tingoora Hotel.

He was elected to Wondai Council at the 2004 elections and was appointed Deputy Mayor.

At the 2008 council elections - the first held after amalgamation - Wayne was defeated by just 685 votes by former Wondai Mayor David Carter after preferences were distributed.

He told SBBiz that he had been inundated with requests to run again for the mayoral position.

He believes he can help regain community belief in the council despite the furore over the Kingaroy Forecourt, the state of local roads and the sluggish business environment.

Wayne will leave CROW-FM in February after 15 years as the breakfast announcer to concentrate solely on the Mayoral election.

"I believe the South Burnett Regional Council urgently needs someone who can lead a team of Councillors to reinvigorate our region and get the community and council working together," he said.

He is also concerned that the smaller towns in the South Burnett seem to have been left behind after four years of amalgamation.

"It was always going to be tough after amalgamation and I realise there are not a lot of funds to carry out and implement major changes," he said. "However the available money must be better utilised."

Kratzie will broadcast his final brekkie show on CROW-FM on Wednesday, February 22.

UPDATE January 27: Due to the State Election, Wayne Kratzmann's last day on CROW-FM has been pushed back to March 16
Less Than A Fortnight To Get Enrolled To Vote!
January 18, 2012 - Time is running out if you want to vote - or stand - in the upcoming Council elections.

The council poll will be held on Saturday, March 31. Remember, voting is compulsory for all eligible citizens.

The electoral rolls close on January 31. If you have turned 18 before this date - and haven't already registered - you must do so to vote in this election. Anyone who has changed their address must also update their electoral roll information.

Would-be councillors should note that nominations open on February 11 and close on February 28.

Chopper Team Thanked By A Grateful Little Girl

January 18, 2012 - Most South Burnett residents already recognise the importance of the rescue choppers which service our local hospitals but the story of young Pippa really brings home the message.

Pippa Nevett was born on January 10 last year with a collapsed lung. In the hours that followed, her fight for life became critical. She needed acute medical care which could only be offered at the Royal Brisbane Children's Hospital but Brisbane was in the grip of flood.

The AGL Action Rescue Helicopter, carrying a specialist paediatric doctor and nurse, swooped to her rescue. The mercy flight left shortly after midnight on January 13.

Three weeks later this courageous baby girl finally came home, joining her father Christian and sister Milly at their Tewantin home.

On Monday the Nevett family, (above), met up with Chief Pilot Brent Chamberlain and Aircrewman Scott Reeman to thank them for saving their little girl.

And Pippa was presented with an AGL Action Rescue Helicopter teddy bear.

These teddy bears - "Choppa" (a pilot bear) and "Stewie" (a crew bear) - are also available for the public to buy. Each bear helps support the service.

The AGL Action Rescue Helicopter is a not-for-profit organisation which relies on sponsorship and community donations to meet one-third of its annual running costs.

Donations can be be made via their website

$4000 Grant To Burnett War Museum
January 17, 2012 - The Burnett War Memorial Museum Association, based at Kingaroy Airport, has been awarded a $4000 Community Heritage Grant so it can carry out a Preservation Needs Assessment of its museum collection.

Federal LNP Member for Maranoa Bruce Scott said the grant would help preserve the Burnett's locally owned cultural heritage collection.

"I visited the Burnett War Memorial Museum last year with LNP Candidate for Nanango Deb Frecklington and was very impressed with the association's work," Mr Scott said.

"This grant will help the association continue their work in preserving this nationally significant collection."

The Community Heritage Grant is jointly funded and supported by the National Library Australia, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Office for the Arts, the National Archives of Australia, the National Film and Sound Archive and the National Museum of Australia.
$97,000 Funding For Tractor Tattoo Festival
January 17, 2012 - South Burnett Regional Council - with the assistance of Creative Regions - has secured $97,000 in Federal and State arts grants to stage a Tractor Tattoo in September this year (see SBBiz June 16, 2011).

Planning for the music and visual arts festival is in the early stages but proposals already put forward include:

  • The construction of a "tractor" which can be played as a percussive musical instrument

  • The commissioning of a special composition that can be played on the tractor and/or by local musical groups and choirs

  • Linked projects involving South Burnett artists, craftspeople and videographers

  • An arts competition run across the region

Cr Cheryl Dalton, chair of Council's Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee, said a steering committee had been formed to guide the project.

Creative Regions will manage the project co-ordination under Council's direction.

The opening event will include a concert and the official unveiling of the tractor - possibly in the Town Hall Forecourt in Kingaroy or Memorial Park. This would be followed by a month of exhibits and projects across the region.

"This will be a major community event," Cr Dalton told SBBiz. "There will be a concert, choirs, a real festival atmosphere."

Council hopes local High Schools will also get involved as well as artist collectives, choirs, musical groups, dance schools etc.

Community arts group Jumping Ant Arts Inc is already on board and has booked the Kingaroy Art Gallery to stage an exhibition to coincide with the festival.

South Burnett Arts Inc has also signalled its involvement and hopes to organise a mini-tractor decoration competition involving community groups across the region.

Cr Dalton said she was very excited about the project which will have as much community involvement as possible.

"We aim to get the whole South Burnett involved together in one common visual arts and musical project," she said.

Artists and groups with ideas that may fit into the Tractor Tattoo concept have been invited to apply for funding under the current RADF round which opened on January 13. This round will have a strong focus on applications related to the Tattoo.

"What's great about opportunities like Tractor Tattoo is how we can showcase South Burnett talent while also being able to bring professionals (like composers) into the South Burnett that we would not normally have access to. I can't wait until September!" Cr Dalton said.

NB. The Tractor Tattoo has nothing whatever to do with "getting inked". The term "tattoo" - as popularised by the annual Edinburgh Military Tattoo - is a ceremonial form of entertainment
Here's What's Been Happening ...
January 16, 2012 - Here's a quick catch-up of some of the business news highlights that occurred over the break:

On December 21, the Queensland Planning and Environment Court dismissed an application by Cougar Energy seeking a stay of conditions that required it to decommission and rehabilitate its UCG site near Kingaroy.

Judge Richard Jones noted that the well failure at the site occurred within just five days of UCG operations starting.

"On or about 20 March 2010, the only operational production well being operated by Cougar had a failure involving the fracturing of the cement grout lining of the well wall. As a result of this incident, the well became blocked and gas, including the contaminants benzene and toluene, escaped into the surrounding geology," he said.

Judge Jones said Cougar advised DERM staff of a "flare malfunction" and that the well's inner casing had moved due to "thermal expansion" but did not inform them of the well failure for more than a month. Subsequent monitoring of bores revealed elevated levels of benzene.

The most recent monitoring, in July 2011, had revealed benzene in the lower Kunioon aquifer "at a level approximately 15 times greater that the water quality trigger level permitted by the environmental authority".

Cougar claimed DERM's actions had been politically driven and there was no evidence that environmental harm had occurred. However DERM argued that water in the Kunioon aquifer was "relatively fresh" and considered to be at least a potential future source of human drinking water. They also argued that the contamination plume could spread.

Judge Jones said he was satisfied the potential for environmental harm was real. He also said Cougar's argument that the risks must be low "because the government had sat on its hands" was disingenuous.

  • Long-standing Kingaroy vet Julian Mullins, who was awarded an Order of Australia medal in January 2010, closed the doors of his surgery due to ill-health. Dr Mullins campaigned strongly for many years on the importance of pet desexing programs and has also worked long and hard on fund-raising for the Kingaroy Hospital Auxiliary.

  • The Peanut Company of Australia announced on December 22 that it had signed a $13.25 million contract for the sale of its NT properties. However, the sale is conditional on the release by the NT Government of a Draft Water Allocation Plan. If this plan is not released by March 19, the purchaser has the right to terminate the contract. ABC Radio reported that the buyer was sandalwood grower Tropical Forestry Services.

  • The Burnett Inland Economic Development Organisation (BIEDO) was awarded a $120,000 grant from the State Government for Phase 2 of its "Clean and Clever Burnett Inland" project to help position the region "for economic development growth and prosperity based on its strategic location in the centre of the triangle formed by SEQ, Sunshine Coast and the Surat Basin".

* * *

RIGHT: Kingaroy resident Gabrielle Kavanagh was so horrified by a recent front page photograph in a local newspaper that she has organised a petition to present to the publishers.

In an echo of the public furore that erupted after Vanity Fair magazine published a cover photo of a heavily pregnant Demi Moore back in 1991, it seems that at least some local residents agree with Mrs Kavanagh.

In just a few minutes yesterday morning, she gathered 25 signatures on her petition which she will present to the newspaper this week.
Have a Safe and Happy
Christmas Everyone!
December 19, 2011 - would like to wish all our readers a very happy and safe Christmas and a prosperous 2012!

The website will be running as usual over the holiday break so please continue to send in any updates or changes to business listings, however our news briefs will be taking a short break until January 16.

A huge thank you to everyone who has assisted us over the past 12 months!

* * *

Just a quick road safety update: The Department of Transport and Main Roads has advised that the D'Aguilar Highway over the Blackbutt Range will remain operating as a single lane under traffic control over Christmas-New Year.

Recent wet weather has delayed work that had aimed to have two lanes open by Christmas.

Road users can register to receive free SMS updates at
Dick Goes Nuts For Kingaroy Farmers

ABOVE: Entrepreneur Dick Smith inspects peanuts at Rob Patch's property near Kingaroy

December 16, 2011 - A media scrum followed iconic Aussie entrepreneur Dick Smith, (right), when he visited Kingaroy today to spruik a "Buy Aussie" message in support of local peanut growers.

Dick's message was simple ... if Australian peanuts aren't available because it's been a bad season, just be patient and wait until they are.

This is what he's doing with his Dick Smith Peanut Butter brand, and he's convinced Coles supermarkets to do the same, to leave an empty space on their shelves until he can source enough Aussie peanuts.

With TV crews and newspaper reporters in tow, Dick Smith visited Wayne Weller's peanut property at West Wooroolin (where a TV helicopter startled everyone by landing), Rob Patch's property near Kingaroy, Proteco (where he viewed oils being processed) and PCA's headquarters in Haly Street.

At PCA, Managing Director Craig Mills explained that the last harvest had been the second lowest on record and there simply weren't enough Australian peanuts to share around.

Dick said he realised it was not PCA's fault that peanuts were being imported; in fact he blamed the Australian public who always wanted the cheapest food.

He said that if peanut butter was just 20 cents a jar more expensive, more money could go to Australian peanut growers and more people could be employed in the industry.

The media surround local peanut grower Wayne Weller
A Channel 9 team quizzes PCA Managing Director Craig Mills
LEFT: The sign that Coles will be placing on their supermarket shelves.

FAR LEFT: Australian Junior Gliding Champion Andrew Maddocks, from Ipswich, who is competing in the current junior championships at Kingaroy, had the opportunity to get Dick Smith's autograph

Regional Health Focus For Federal MP's Visit

December 16, 2011 - Federal Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Health Services and Indigenous Health (and Member for the bayside seat of Bowman) Andrew Laming visited the South Burnett yesterday to inspect the Barambah Health Centre at Cherbourg.

Andrew, who worked as a doctor in the remote Aboriginal community of Lajamanu in the Northern Territory before entering politics, was impressed with what he saw at Cherbourg. However, he said many of the health concerns between the two communities were similar.

Deb Frecklington, the LNP candidate for the State seat of Nanango, accompanied Andrew on his visit.

She was particularly impressed with the activities for women offered by the Centre, including special gym times allotted just for their use.

"It is a clean, fantastic facility which is well-utilised by the town," she said.

Andrew said he supported LNP Leader Campbell Newman's strong focus on work as a way of assisting communities such as Cherbourg.

"Campbell has a focus of getting people into work, into the real economy," he said. However to achieve this people had to be encouraged to step down from what Aboriginal lawyer Noel Pearson has described as the "welfare pedestal" by making welfare seem less attractive.

Health issues outside Cherbourg were also a focus of the visit.

Deb Frecklington raised the issue of the long waiting times for local dental patients and Andrew predicted there would be funding problems ahead for regional hospitals with the introduction of a "case mix" system in 2014-15 as part of the Federal Government's national health reform package.

The duo later visited local GPs to hear their concerns about local health issues.

ABOVE: LNP candidate Deb Frecklington discusses health issues with Andrew Laming, MP

* * *

AusNiCo has concluded its test drilling program, (see SBBiz, November 21), on the Black Snake Plateau near Kilkivan which was designed to determine the tonnage potential of copper-gold-silver deposits in the area. In a statement to the ASX today, the company said results were encouraging.
Another 12 Months For Thiess
December 15, 2011 - Thiess has been awarded a $185 million one-year extension to its contract to operate the Meandu coal mine at Tarong.

Managing Director Bruce Munro said the contract extension until December 2012 reaffirms the strong relationship between Stanwell Corporation (which operates the Tarong and Tarong North power stations) and Thiess.

"Thiess is proud of the critical role we play in providing coal for electricity generation in Queensland and we're delighted to continue our partnership with Stanwell Corporation," Mr Munro said.

Thiess Australian Mining Executive General Manager Michael Wright said the contract extension was particularly significant as it's a vote of confidence in the company's management of last summer's floods.

"The floods presented enormous challenges at Meandu but innovative mine management minimised the impact on coal delivery."

The mine, which has been operated by Thiess since 2008, supplies up to 5.5 million tonnes of coal per year to Tarong and Tarong North.

* * *

Mary-Clare Power has been appointed CEO of the boards of Toowoomba Golden West and South Burnett Tourism and Southern Downs and Granite Belt Regional Tourism.

She has more than 20 years experience in tourism, including roles at Tourism Queensland and Events Queensland.

* * *

Three charges against Cougar Energy which allege breaches of the Environmental Protection Act at the company's Underground Coal Gasification project at Kingaroy were adjourned today in Kingaroy Magistrates' Court to February 23.
Kingaroy Christmas Carnival On Tonight!
December 15, 2011 - Don't forget to come into Kingaroy tonight for the annual Christmas Carnival!

Clare & Corky from CROW-FM will be hosting the fun in and around O'Neill Square from 5:00pm to 9:00pm.

There'll be plenty of food and other stalls plus $2 rides for the kids. There'll also be dodg'ems for just $6, face-painting and live entertainment.

Most importantly, Santa has promised to make an appearance despite his incredibly tight social schedule at this time of the year. The old gent in red will drop by at 6:15pm.

Also, there'll be an opportunity to take potshots at local celebrities - including councillor Damien Tessmann, Corky, Michael "DJdirex" Monk, LNP candidate for Nanango Deb Frecklington and Kingaroy cricketer Nigel Megaw - in the dunking chair.

A few local small businesses have also joined together to have a stall selling personalised Christmas baubles for a gold coin donation. All money raised will be donated to the Kids Christmas Charity appeal. Also available will be gift vouchers from Somethings Country, Kingaroy Office Central, Everlasting Creations, Kingaroy Pet World, Temptations Lingerie, Kingaroy Butchery and NC's Beauty Spot.

The 2011 Kingaroy Christmas Carnival has been organised by the South Burnett Young Leaders Association. Thank you guys and gals!