POWER 40: Gympie’s most influential people of 2020, #30-25
#30 WARREN POLLEY
WARREN Polley makes his first appearance on Gympie’s list of the most influential, after he defeated deputy mayor Bob Leitch to win the Division 7 seat on Gympie Regional Council by 24 votes at this year’s council election.
Mr Polley’s straightforward “say it like it is” attitude garnered him support in the community, and he now represents the more than 5000 residents of Southside.
A true businessman, Mr Polley is forthright with his views on council spending, and is not afraid to ask the tough questions in council.
Mr Polley is also on the Gympie Chamber of Commerce, and is the director of Polleys Coaches, with decades of experience in the tourism, transport and travel industries, and running a large staff.
Since taking over the family business in 2009, Mr Polley has continued to grow Polleys, and it now has a fleet of 57 buses, 40 of which do school runs for more than 3000 of the region’s students daily.
Mr Polley said he was passionate about connecting people with their futures through transport, and as a councillor believes exploring and developing new options, seeking new pathways, forging new partnerships and maintaining authentic relationships are the keys to spearhead growth.
Mr Polley said he believes in the “entrepreneurial” people of Gympie, and as a councillor will facilitate them to bring new businesses and ideas to the region.
#29 DEAN COMERFORD
COMING in at Number 29, down eight places from last year’s Power 30, is Pastor Dean Comerford.
For the past 11 years Pastor Comerford was the Senior Pastor at Gympie Community Church, however earlier this month, he decided to embark on a new journey, opening a ministry with his wife Tania.
The Community Church has grown to become one of Gympie’s larger churches, caring for several hundred people on a week by week basis. When churches were forced to close in March due to the Coronavirus outbreak, Pastor Comerford, along with several other Gympie pastors, set about building an online broadcast studio, which saw five Gympie churches working as one to broadcast daily content and weekly services to their people via Gympie.Church Online.
Seeing churches work together in unity has been the driving force behind Pastor Comerford’s work beyond his own congregation. He has been the secretary to the Gympie Minister’s Network for nearly eleven years and this has allowed him to get involved in many initiatives around the region.
Some of those initiatives involve combined services and prayer meetings, supporting religious instruction and chaplaincy in schools, helping with the Mayoral Prayer Breakfast, and championing organisations like 91.5fm, Hope Reins, Lifehouse Gympie, and others. He has also been the chairman of Gympie’s Christmas in the Park for the past 10 years, although sadly it has been cancelled this year due to COVID regulations).
Although Mr Comerford has finished his role as a church pastor, he is still fully committed to being involved in those initiatives that see churches working together in the region. He is continuing to support churches, both locally and around SEQ with supervision, leadership coaching and speaking.
Mr Comerford oversees Gympie’s Christmas in the Park (which has sadly been cancelled due to COVID), and as chairman has enjoyed organising the beloved community event which hosts more than 5000 people a year.
#28 ANTHONY LANSKEY
AS PRINCIPAL of Gympie State High School, Anthony Lanskey has an integral role in educating and supporting Gympie’s next generation.
Mr Lanskey brings 30 years of experience to his role as the head of GSHS, and since 2015 has overseen the education of thousands of students, and the employment of hundreds of staff.
Mr Lanskey believes it is important not to underestimate the ability of students and young people, and encourage students to embrace excellence.
Along with his role at GSHS, Mr Lanskey also became an active part of helping grow education through the Gympie State Schools Administration alliance, an organisation comprised of other principals across the region.
However his influence and support for Gympie’s youth extends beyond his role as principal, and he has been president of Australia Secondary Schools Rugby League for almost six years.
Working his way down the Queensland coast throughout his life, from far north Queensland to Bundaberg and then to Gympie, Mr Lanskey has nurtured a passion for youth rugby league across the state.
In his time as president and in other positions, including chairman of the Wide Bay School Sports Board, he helped to grow the sport from Gympie to Kingaroy and Bundaberg, amounting to more than 20 years of involvement in regional rugby league.
Last November, Mr Lanskey helped put Gympie in the national spotlight, after Vow and Declare won the Melbourne Cup and became a national champion.
Mr Lanskey part-owns the horse along with his sons, friend Bob Leitch and others, and is now a part of Gympie - and Australian - history.
#27 JACKSON DODD
EDUCATORS play a crucial role in the development of children and teenagers, and Jackson Dodd has helped shape hundreds of young minds in the region.
Mr Dodd has had an extensive career in education spanning almost 30 years, and now he oversees more than 120 staff members and 1300 students as principal of James Nash State High School.
Assuming his position as principal in January 2018, Mr Dodd plays an important role in educating the Gympie region’s next generation, with 1300 students currently enrolled in the school, which services Kilkivan, Amamoor, Gympie and Glenwood.
Data from 2019 showed only 18.9 per cent of Australian university students were in regional areas but Mr Dodd and James Nash SHS encourage students to aim high, offering guidance and entry ways to tertiary education.
Under Mr Dodd’s leadership more and more students are choosing to go to TAFE or university and earlier this year, Mr Dodd was proud to announce 40 Year 12 students had enrolled in university courses through the USC Headstart Program.
“We’ve seen close to 40 of our senior students start the HeadStart program in 2020, with almost half of our students achieving a Distinction or higher grade,” Mr Dodd said.
“This is testament to the fact that high school students can and will achieve highly in tertiary studies when given the opportunity.”
This can only be a positive for the region as studies show many rural and regional students return to their home towns after higher education, bringing back new skills and resources.
#26 MATTHEW SAMPLE
THIS prominent Mary Valley figure has turned his sporting passion into a business and created Australia’s only privately owned purpose-built endurance facility near Imbil.
Matthew Sample, an endurance riding champion, opened the gates of Stirling’s Crossing Equestrian Complex in 2016 with the Equestrian Australia Endurance Championships as its inaugural event.
Three short years later the facility was attracting riding royalty when it hosted Australia’s most prestigious endurance event, the 54th Tom Quilty Gold Cup last year.
The 160km ride is the premier event on Australia’s endurance calendar and the largest in the southern hemisphere, attracting scores of national and international competitors.
Mr Sample won the Tom Quilty Gold Cup himself in 2009, and together with his father Bob and brother Brook, has taken home more than 30 buckles for completing the gruelling ride.
Last year’s Tom Quilty Gold Cup tripled the population of Imbil when up to 3000 people including competitors and their support crew travelled from around the country to attend.
The economic impact on the region was estimated to be at least $2 million; the nature of the event enticing visitors to spend in and explore the Mary Valley and Gympie regions.
With the blueprints ready for expansion to become one of the country’s most diverse and premium equestrian facilities, there will be no slowing down Mr Sample’s pull of quality events to the region that will continue to boost tourism.
#25 GREGG DAVEY
FOR six years Senior Sergeant Gregg Davey has been the officer-in-charge of Gympie Police.
The good-natured former chief detective took on the role in 2014, and has been making the Gympie community a safer place to live ever since.
Mr Davey first joined the Police Academy in Brisbane in 1986, was sworn in as Constable in 1987, and has been posted all around Queensland during his career, seeing the best and worst police work has to offer.
Mr Davey’s role as OIC was to ensure the station performed to a high standard, and making the community a safer place to live.
“The first thing I do every morning is to review the previous 24 hour (72 hours on a Monday) offence stats, traffic outputs an domestic and family violence reports,” he said.
“My primary responsibilities are for general duties/uniform functions within the Gympie Division – we have an approved staff strength with the uniform numbers fluctuating with the presence of First Year Constables assigned for training.
“My responsibilities include the overall management of the station which has a 24-hour watch house.
“The station also houses areas for the CIB, CPIU, Prosecutions, Scenes of Crime, Intelligence Unit and Communications staff.”
This year at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Queensland, Mr Davey led his officers as they took a zero-tolerance stance in the fight against spreading the virus.
He said every crew – general road police, CIB, plain clothes and uniformed officers – was tasked with checking on compliance with COVID-19 restrictions, and they concentrated on monitoring, education and advice, which kept the community safe and prosecutions to a minimum.
This list is a subjective talking point, not a scientific guide. We welcome feedback from the public.
It is about the 40 most powerful and/or influential people in the Gympie region.
How strong and broad is their influence?
A special committee of community leaders from various walks of life have voted on who should be on this list and in what order.
Is there someone you think should be on the list? Email your contenders to
email@example.com or comment below and tell us why.