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Mayor's Column - Leaders in the Leader 8-5-2020

Published: 11th May 2020

When I approached the Longreach Leader to see if they would be interested in hosting this rotating column, featuring the views of your local, state, and federal representatives, I had one simple goal. The goal is to give you an insight into the work of your elected representatives, not only to keep you updated but to share some of the unique situations faced by leaders in our community so we can have informed and constructive conversations about them.

It’s been a busy start for Councillors – both new and returning – as we settle in for our new term. We’ve had a full schedule of inductions, training, and development, followed closely by our first Council meeting, and in-depth Budget workshops working toward the next financial year.

The work of Council in reducing deficits and balancing the budget has never been more vital. At the same time, that work has never been more challenging, as the entire economy comes under pressure during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Council is not immune to the pressures faced by any other business at this time. In fact, local government has been left out of every major support package announced so far – although there are moves being made in the background to address this. 

How we respond to these challenges will have a lasting impact on the future of our communities and our region. Our community can ill afford for us to either slash services or raise revenue, so we’re going to need some form of assistance. My team and I have already started the hard work of advocating for the help our region needs. 

Traditionally economic recovery after a disaster is coordinated at a district level, in a partnership between state government and local stakeholders. Our role as a partner in organisations like RAPAD, of which I am humbled to have been elected chair, and the Western Alliance of 21 councils will be more important than ever in the coming months.

Not everything is a challenge of course. There are many joys that come with representing our community and I also hope to share some of those with you through this column. One bit of good news I’m happy to report is that our strategy of hiring a consultant last year to assist with grant applications is starting to bear fruit – with two significant wins under our belt already. 

One is for a shade structure over the Netball Courts in Longreach that will transform them into a multi-purpose facility. The other is a major grant, under Building Our Regions round five, which will see an extension to the rail-siding at the Longreach Saleyards and Spelling Facility. It will allow for much more efficient loading of stock and help build the reputation of our Saleyards and Spelling Facility regionally.

I’d like to thank you all for the goodwill and support shown to me so far. We have a great region, challenges or not, and I see an opportunity to deliver many positive outcomes as your Mayor – so I remain, as you should too, excited about our shared future.

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