John Wagner, Owner of Wellcamp Airport, Toowoomba
The gas industry in this region has had a major positive impact on not only Toowoomba but the whole Surat Basin and the regional economy here.
When we go back and look at how things were seven or eight years ago, we're in a totally different place. So Toowoomba has become the service centre for the Surat Basin, the Bowen Basin and the Cooper Basin and it's been a fantastic advancement for a lot of Toowoomba companies to be able to participate in it.
And the direct and indirect benefits to business?
If I take our business into account there's been a lot of very direct benefits. So we service the Surat Basin and we have done for many years and we have developed quarries out in that region, transport businesses and, as a result of the GasFields Commission under John Cotter's leadership, we really have seen that the whole environmental community liaison issue has settled down and people are much more prepared to work together for the betterment of the industry, both the agricultural industry and the coal seam gas industry. And it's been a fantastic ride.
What about employment
If you look at Toowoomba, the unemployment rate we have here is one of the lowest in the country and that's a direct result of not just the coal seam gas sector, but also the agricultural sector and the infrastructure sector that's really booming at the moment. And what it's done is given people the confidence to spend money, to build houses, to build shopping centres, to build motels and, in our case, gave us the confidence to build an airport. So it's been a fantastic thing and this is going to go on for another 20, 30, 40 years and we need to make sure that we embrace it and work together with these people to get the best out of it.
And the future
I see a very strong future for the gas businesses out there subject to the price of oil depending on which way that goes. But Toowoomba is in for a very good ride for quite a long time to come.