Councils must be about more than rates, roads and rubbish
IN JUST over a month's time, Queenslanders will be going to the polls to elect councillors and mayors for 77 local government regions. I reckon most of us would be hard pressed to name more than 10 of them without the help of Google; and that possibly goes for the names of most candidates in our own neck of the woods; if some of us even care, that is.
But we should care. Local government, despite its lack of recognition in the Constitution, is important. Local government is the closest form of authority to the community. It should (but is not always, sadly) be attune to the sentiments and aspirations of the community.
Local government might occupy the lowest rung of the step ladder of the political edifice, but by no means should it only concern itself with local roads, garbage collection and collecting rates. We are now 16 years into the 21st Century. Those born at the turn of this century will soon be adults. This means that council must do more than they have been required to do.
Because the expectations of the next generation of voters will be greater.
Businesses, industries, economic opportunities and jobs won't just fall into this region's lap. We can't rely on our State or Federal MPs to drive our region's economic future. The past has proven that they are, on the whole, just traction for their respective parties' bigger agendas. No. If we want our region to develop and not miss out on the opportunities we keep missing out on, then it must be driven at council level.
Whoever we elect in March must be prepared to be proactive and be willing to think outside of the box. Council should start making noise and start making a nuisance of themselves with higher authorities in order for us to become noticed and valued.
The Gympie Region of the 21st Century needs to establish an identity greater than being referred to as "just north of Noosa".
We cannot rely on being the Town That Saved Queensland, like the state still owes us something.
We need a council that will tirelessly get out there and promote, promote, promote. We need a council that keeps its ear to the ground and be first in line to try and catch new development opportunities from growing industries willing to relocate.
Our region has a growing aged population. Council should be actively pursuing the construction of new aged care facilities, not only in Gympie proper but also in the aged community hotspots, like the Cooloola Coast. Elderly spouses shouldn't have to travel in to Gympie several days a week just to visit their high-needs husbands and wives.
Our region is poorly serviced by the major Telcos. Certainly on the coastal strip, the overloading of mobile services every holiday time doesn't go down well with either residents or visitors. Council should have been screaming blue murder at the Telcos and our soon-to-be-former Federal Member; who coincidentally is the Minister for Regional Development.
Gympie was once a major centre for the production of bananas, beans and pineapples. Much of these industries have been lost.
Council needs to attract industries to this region instead of just being satisfied when the latest national retail outlet opens its doors here. Retail may employ a few locals on a casual basis but they don't actually make anything.
So, as we go to the polls in March, we should think about the performances of the incumbents, the values of the contenders and who are the ones who have vision, drive and are prepared to adopt 21st Century thinking and apply it to the way this council works.