The four municipalities covering Federation, Moira, Berrigan and Rural City of Wangaratta met at ClubMulwala last Thursday, May 3 to add support to Federation Council’s bid to have a Qantas Flight Training Centre at Corowa Airport.
The mayors of all four councils were among 24 representatives from the councils and business community groups in respect of the Corowa, Tocumwal, Wangaratta and Yarrawonga Airports.
Yarrawonga Mulwala Strategic Development Group convened last Thursday’s meeting, with Chairman Doug Evans OAM directing proceedings. When an indication of support was asked for, via a motion, there was unanimous support for Federation Council’s bid.
“It is an historical agreement,” Mr Evans said. “We’re not in a position for it to be a resolution but the united show of support is there. The four shires indicated there is the need and opportunity to go forward together in the region.”
A meeting of the four economic development officers from the municipalities is to take place, at ClubMulwala, which will result in a joint submission to Qantas supporting Federation Council’s Expression of Interest.
Qantas is embarking on an Australia-wide search for a venue to initially train 100 pilots increasing to 500 per year.
Mr Evans explained the reasoning behind last Thursday’s meeting. “As the pilot training centre would be a major boost to any area that is successful, the possibility for an area to go it alone or a region joined together needs to be examined urgently as the Qantas requirement is urgent.
“Coupled with the flight training centre is the opportunity to develop a freight centre for perishable goods to be transported by air to Asian markets. This would give a direct flight opportunity for Goulburn Valley, Murray Valley and Riverina produce bypassing time and cost consuming travel to Melbourne for trans-shipment.”
Federation Council Mayor Pat Bourke, who was accompanied by Crs Norm Wales and Bronwyn Thomas, welcomed the support of neighbouring councils.
“The outcome was very positive for Federation Council,” Mayor Bourke told Yarrawonga Chronicle. “We’ve already been speaking to Qantas.
“Our council’s already made a commitment but I’d be more than happy to have lodged their support for us which could make it a bigger picture for Federation Council. It’s making a greater application and opportunity, with mutual benefits, if all present today are supporting Federation Council’s Expression of Interest.”
Moira Shire Councillor Peter Mansfield said that Qantas will be “playing state against state, regions against regions and towns against towns”. “The bigger the group put together the better,” he said.
Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy attended. Member for Albury Greg Aplin was an apology.
Mr Evans was pleased with the involvement of all present. “I thank the four municipalities and representatives for this historical agreement,” he said.
“Our group believes there are a number of spin-offs for Wangaratta, Berrigan, Tocumwal, Yarrawonga and Federation Council - for the whole region - by working together.”