This week it was my pleasure to join Local Government Association of Queensland President Mayor Mark Jamieson, LGAQ Head of Advocacy Alison Smith, Media Executive Sarah Vogler and Peak Services Director Brian Jackson on a four-day six-council trip to Far North Queensland. The trip encompassed visits to Douglas Shire, Tablelands Regional, Mareeba Shire, Cassowary Coast Regional, Cairns Regional, and Cook Shire councils.
I know I say this time and time again, but nothing beats meeting with our members face-to-face, on their turf, to hear about their hopes and their concerns and to work with them to find solutions. For our Far North Queensland members that includes tourism and economic development, housing and health, water, disaster management and resilience, and cost of living issues like the prohibitive cost of insurance for their communities, as well as crocodile and shark management and the impact of unintended consequences emerging following of the widespread legislative reform experienced by our sector over the last four years.
Many of these issues are common for councils across this state and these visits are crucial in helping the LGAQ mount the best possible arguments on behalf of our members to address these concerns. We were not the only LGAQ crew on the road this week. We also had folks meeting with members in areas like Wujal Wujal, Cherbourg, Goondiwindi, Charleville, and throughout Central Queensland.
The LGAQ’s mantra is Connect. Innovate and Achieve, with connect first in the order for a reason.
That means travel and lots of it. Over the past 28 and three-quarter years, I have served as the LGAQ’s CEO I have averaged 60 nights away or 90 days out of the office for each of those years. That is almost seven years of my life on the road and living out of my trusty red travelling bag.
During that time I have developed a great sense of connection to Queensland’s cities, towns, hamlets, and shires and the hardworking men and women who have put their hands up to lead those communities through whatever life and mother nature throws at them. On a very personal level, it is heartening to be recognised by people I have had the privilege of meeting and working with over those years.
I was chuffed to receive a surprise visit from long-retired Deputy Mayor of the former Eacham Shire, George Kidner, who dropped in to have a beer with me while in Atherton on Monday night. This often happens to me in towns like Windorah, Birdsville, Thargo, Gundy, St George, Townsville, and the like and it makes my job that much richer to catch up with my old local government friends.
At the end of the day, we are a people business, pure and simple.
Everything we do is with and for people.