CINEMA TO RETURN? Mayoral candidates weigh in
SINCE the Roma Cinemas rolled their closing credits in November 2018, the building has sat empty.
In just five years, the theatre has made three final curtain calls.
In 2014, the cinema closed briefly due to the expenses involved with changing over from 35mm to digital technology. In 2017, the operators walked out without notice, it reopened in June 2018 before once again closing its doors in November.
Since its last curtain call, many residents have called for the cinema to reopen in Roma.
A recent survey of Western Star readers showed an overwhelming response, with many saying they were concerned the closure of the cinema had drastically reduced child-friendly activities in the region.
As the race amps up for March's Maranoa Regional Council election, current mayor Tyson Golder and councillor David Schefe, who is vying for the top spot, have weighed in, with two differing takes on whether they would like to see the cinema re-open.
Mayor Tyson Golder:
THE Maranoa Regional Council would have purchased the Roma cinema if mayor Golder's controversial 2019/2020 budget had been accepted by his colleagues.
Last year, Cr Golder prepared and presented a budget, which included plans to buy the cinema and operate it at low cost.
Cr Golder outlined the importance he placed on the community having a cinema.
"It's no secret that in the last budget I proposed, I proposed council buy the cinema and change the operating model to have a low-cost ticket model," he said.
"That is still my view - As I am standing for mayor again, I think it's important to reiterate I still believe in that.
"It's one of the barometers of how a community is going; what level of services do we have?"
Cr Golder said the low cost movie model, which he continues to stick by, would get more people to the cinema, particularly young and elderly people.
"To me, this is just crucial infrastructure that I believe the community would benefit from," he said.
"It's also great social interaction - the theatre itself could be used for so much, we could get school groups in there.
"In the past it's also been used for movie nights and for State of Origin.
"There's plenty of value in it, and I believe we need a whole suite of measures to give things for children to do, but also make it affordable for families."
Cr Golder said he believed the future of the Maranoa depended on a population boost, but infrastructure was needed to incentivise more people to the region.
"We need to have these kinds of assets to offer people," he said.
"People travel through our towns for work, and this is another opportunity where we can tick their box of 'do I want to come and live here?'
"To me, the cinema is a no-brainer."
Councillor David Schefe:
CURRENT councillor and could-be-mayor, David Schefe, said he would back anything the community wanted - if they were prepared to pay for it.
"There can always be more facilities, and I'll back anything if the community wants it, and are willing to pay for it," Cr Schefe said.
"But there is the matter of living within our means.
"We are actually punching above our weight, as a fairly small community.
"I think we are doing a really good job despite the circumstances, the drought is quite punishing and the repercussions will be the biggest challenge for the new council."
Cr Schefe said in order to provide more facilities for the Maranoa to enjoy, more people in the region were needed.
"Population growth is going to be our number one issue moving forward, we need to broaden the number of people we have in our community to support what our community wants, that's basic economics," he said.
"This is certainly been helped by the deal we signed with APLNG before Christmas, I think that will certainly help push our population growth."
Cr Schefe said he also supported the Country Universities Centre project, as he hoped it would keep more young people in the region.
"We need to focus on that … over the next 20 years I'd like to see our population increase to that 20,000 level. I think we're going to be more sustainable at that," he said.
"I'd like to continue to upgrade all of our facilities. We've got to improve our liveability and I think that's what people are looking for, so we have to look at how we can improve that."