Why public defence, data jobs are needed in Toowoomba
TOOWOOMBA'S business, political and economic leaders have pushed for federal defence and agriculture jobs to be moved to the region.
Representatives from nine Toowoomba organisations, including Mayor Paul Antonio, TSBE chairman Shane Charles and Chamber of Commerce CEO Jo Sheppard, were grilled over six hours by members of the Select Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation today.
Toowoomba is one of several regional centres across Australia wanting to take on government departments usually based in Canberra.
In his submissions to the MPs, Mr Charles said while Toowoomba's strength was agriculture, the region offered a real opportunity to host defence personnel and cybersecurity initiatives.
"Everyone wants agriculture, but one niche we have is in defence," he told the committee.
"We have two army bases here, in Oakey and Cabarlah.
"We think there's a greater opportunity for defence spending in regional Australia.
"There is no data centre in Australia outside Canberra holding government information, which poses a security threat."
Grant Statton from FKG Group, which is building the $40 million Pulse Data Centre in Toowoomba, also backed the decentralisation of data across Australia, citing potential increases in security and prosperity.
"Decentralisation of data can create digital hot spots," he said.
"I think there's a misnomer that you have to be in a city area to be connected.
"Centralising data poses a national risk - that's just a fact.
"If you are storing 95% of government data within a 15km range, that is a risk."
Representatives from Oakey Beef Exports and the University of Southern Queensland also submitted to the committee, chaired by Paterson MP Meryl Swanson.