Marlborough Motors
Marlborough Motors Danielle McKenzie

CQ community fears it will become a 'ghost town'

MARLBOROUGH business owners have expressed concerns the town could become a 'ghost town' like Ogmore.

The Morning Bulletin spoke with four business owners on the weekend about their concerns of the domino effect of the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area expansion.

Marlborough Convenience and Hardware Store owner Debbie Riley, who met with Department of Defence representatives last week, said the Defence had not considered the social or economic impact to the region linked with purchasing the 20-30 agriculture properties for the project.

Marlborough Hotel owner Bob Jeffries said he feels he has been 'virtually left in the dark' about what will happen.

He said half of his customers were off the land while the other half were local residents that will also be impacted by the land acquisition.

"It's going to have a pretty big impact,” Mr Jeffries said.

KP Produce owner Pam Roche said 20-30 of their customers had received letters from the Defence Department.

"We will be hurt quite substantially,” she said.

She said those customers order their produce which was then delivered via the mail service.

Marlborough Motors owner Danii McKenzie said the impact of the development by the Defence Force to enable the Singaporean Army to train is going to have a mass ripple effect.

"Not only are the homes and livelihood of these local graziers being taken away from them, our entire community and township is being ripped apart,” she said.

"Together we stand as a whole. These local graziers support our local businesses, without them we will cease to exist.”

All of the business owners talked about how the ripple effect would stretch to seeing the closure of two mail runs and the loss of students at the Marlborough State School as the agriculture families move elsewhere.

"We certainly don't wanted to end up a ghost town like Ogmore,” Mrs Roche said.

She said Ogmore had its hotel and store close down a couple of years ago and since then, that town had become a ghost town.

Mrs Roche said while KP Produce sent out 60 accounts a month and had about 20 cash customers, those 20-30 landholders in the Shoalwater area were really good customers and it would impact their business.

She said they sold dog food, chicken feed and other produce to those farmers.

"The army is not going to buy any of that,” Mrs Roche said.

She said her husband also made hay which was also sold to the local farmers.

The couple have owned the business since 2005 but have been in the region since 2000 after moving here from the Northern Territory.

Mrs Riley's family has owned the convenience store for the past 20 years.

"I carry a fair range of groceries,” she said.

Mrs Riley sells items such as bread, milk and vegetables to nuts, bolts and pipes.

The Marlborough Hotel is also an overnight stop for grey nomads in the winter.

Mr Jeffries said he would have 20 vans a night parked out the back in the tourist season.

Kerri-Anne Mesner



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