The Goomeri Pumpkin Festival.
The Goomeri Pumpkin Festival.

Q&A: Candidates outline region’s untapped assets

IN THE lead-up to the March 28 council election, The Gympie Times put a number of questions to the region’s candidates.

Today, the 30 men and women fighting for one of the nine seats on the next Gympie Regional Council reveal how they believe are the region’s best assets to build on.


All responses presented in divisional order, and in the sequence candidates’ names appear on the ballot papers.

The Mary River walk.
The Mary River walk.


Glen Hartwig

The biggest asset by far are the people. The community spirit and commitment from volunteers make the Gympie region the best place to live in Australia. The community driven festivals like the Yabba Regatta, the Goomeri Pumpkin Festival, Heart of Gold, Art Trails, and so many others make this region a great place to live. The council needs to do the basics and do them well. Parks, gardens and roads need to be well maintained to give our visitors a positive experience.

Mick Curran

I believe our biggest asset is the community itself. Our sporting, arts, service clubs and community organisations all play a pivotal role in making this community so great. It is a community I have been proud to call home and raise my own family. This is why, in my current role, I have been determined that council provides financial or in kind assistance through our community assistance grants program. We have a wonderful and diverse natural environment from the coast to the west and there is such diverse opportunity to enhance the liveability and visitor experience across all our communities. We have started that journey through sound investment in community building infrastructure and enhanced liveability opportunities and this will continue under my leadership.

Tim Jerome

The natural beauty of our river and vegetation is one of our biggest asset. It is important that we don’t spoil this with over development in the wrong places. Our other greatest asset is our people (our positive people). It was only with the recognition of people like Malcolm Dodt and his fantastic positive Facebook page called “Gympie the Real Treasure is the Town” that I learnt of great things that positive people in our community are doing. I think it would be great to promote positive people like this and their work to nullify any negative Facebook forums that pull down and degrade our Region.

Aerial view from Rainbow Beach to Carlo Point
Aerial view from Rainbow Beach to Carlo Point

Division 1

Jess Milne

Our natural surroundings, rich heritage and history and laid-back lifestyle. We are surrounded by a recognised biosphere and have a Ramsar site on the Cooloola Coast. Infrastructure to improve access for enjoyment or engage interest with creative bundling of experiences that build a cross region adventure will keep visitors in the area longer. Self-contained RV tourism in regional townships. The Gympie Region has room to expand for both residential and commercial ventures which requires suitable planning.

Ash Little

Our region’s most valuable asset is the people we have and the natural attractions. When people are proud of where they live, they become the best marketing campaign. Our small business sector is being squeezed out rather than supported. Small business keeps Gympie alive and will do long after Gympie has been bypassed. Physical assets all need better marketing and advertising and council can improve in this area. Before spending many more millions, let’s promote and capitalise on what we have.

Mark McDonald

Our region is a microcosm of Australia. We have the rugged West, the picturesque hinterland, the majestic city, and the most magnificent piece of coastline Paradise in the world. We can build on all of it.

Phil Feldman

Environment attractions (Water: rivers, creeks, lakes, ocean), Open country and “bush” (Camping, hiking, trekking, horse riding, 4x4 exploring, trail bikes, State Forests), animal life (whales, fish, birds, indigenous animals), Heritage (indigenous, Mining, Agricultural, Timber, Fishing). Council could develop “friendly” incentives to encourage investment in supporting business and encouragement of longer tourist stays to visit multiple locations / areas/

Shopping in Mary St. Photo Renee Pilcher
Shopping in Mary St. Photo Renee Pilcher

Division 2

Dolly Jensen

The whole region is an asset. It’s a diverse mixture of beach, country and town. It’s absolutely beautiful and we need to take care of it all.

Leonora Cox

Our greatest asset should be a lower cost of living and doing business than areas with higher populations and growth, but it’s not. Rates, fees, and charges need to be streamlined which will lower overall costs to everyone.

Tourism, although not our greatest asset, can certainly be built on, particularly natural and active tourism.

Agriculture is another area council assist in improving and making more cost effective.

Tin Can Bay.
Tin Can Bay.

Division 3

Mal Gear

The regions biggest asset is the lifestyle and location. We are a large country town that is friendly and a great place to raise your family.

The location is also ideal being only 30 minutes to the Ocean but still got that country feeling.

Also soon to be only 60 minutes from an international airport and only 90 minutes to a major city.

Gympie Region is ideally located for huge growth in the future.

Terry McMullan

We have a wealth of natural talent in this region, we need to build on our location, our proximity to the Sunshine Coast for industry and trade ($17.7 bill economy) and advantaging Sea and Green changers. Our proximity to Rainbow Beach and our rural localities offer tourism for day-trippers and long stayers. We have the Rattler in which we have invested heavily and I believe is vastly underdone and also capitalise on what made this region GOLD.

Shane Waldock

Our region’s biggest assets have always been its people. The discovery of gold may have put Gympie on the map but it was its people that kept it there. People run the farms and the small businesses, it’s our community that develop local industry and volunteer at local festivals. We need to build upon this and invest and promote our community festivals, employ locals to work on our roads and infrastructure and buy local.

Michiel Pratt

We have many. Our location to Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay; our climate; the facilities that we have to offer our residents; and our constituents themselves.

We need to start planning for the forthcoming Gympie bypass. We are perfectly located for business to establish themselves in the region due to our relatively low-cost land and wages. I would propose the establishment of a significant industrial facility with access by road and rail in the region.

Colleen Miller

Our biggest asset is our community - it’s the one word that keeps coming up while speaking to residents. It’s the people, the businesses, their ideas, vision and their local knowledge. Add to that our abundance of natural assets - our beaches, towns, and valleys. Our location is what sets us apart - our accessibility, affordability, and proximity to major population centres. We are the gateway to both the South East and the Burnett.

The Mary Valley Rattler.
The Mary Valley Rattler.

Division 4

Bruce Devereaux

Our biggest asset, besides the obvious answer of ‘our people’, is we’re large enough to have attracted all the nice things about city life, like sushi and KFC, but we’re a small enough community to have almost a village feel where you know people and people know you. There’s a market for that feeling if we package it right. Plus everything is so close – beaches, fishing, bush & bike trails, Brisbane.

Rae Gate

The Gympie region is quite diverse in what we have to offer to visitors. We have many natural attractions which include Rainbow Beach, the River Walk, Canoe and Kayak points on the Mary River, Mary Valley. Tourism contributes to our economy and we need to continue to build on this.

Daryl Dodt

Our community is our heart, and our greatest asset. Have a look on my Facebook page; a picture speaks a thousand words. The greatest thing that each and every one of us can do is to promote positivity and accept nothing less. Negative media damages our image and stifles our economic development. It is in each and every one of our best interests to ensure we present our region as welcoming and open for business.

Wayne Sachs

The region’s biggest assets are the people that live here. The whole reason a council exists is to look after its people, whether they are young, pensioners, working and business people, sporting groups and therefore the provision of first class facilities for all walks of life.


Division 5

Rob Burns

The region itself is our biggest asset, its geography and its geographical position. We are close enough to the bigger centres but far enough away to be us. Our natural assets are our main tourist attraction, and our positioning on the soon to come past freeway will offer great industrial and manufacturing growth opportunities if supported and encouraged.

Dan Stewart

Our biggest asset is our people, whether council staff, businesspeople, workers, volunteers and other residents. All council’s resources need to assist residents to be healthier, happier and better able to contribute to our community. Our roads, paths, parks, water and sewerage systems etc need to focus on the needs of our residents and local business. It is also why we need to keep improving the way Council listens to and includes the community in decision making.

Chelle Dobson

The Gympie region itself is our asset, encompassing everything from beach to bush. The Gympie region is ideally suited to adventure tourism. I have always supported the Shooters Range at Curra Forest. This should go ahead. Borumba Dam and Tin Can Bay are suited to fishing competitions. We also have established events such as the Muster, which Council should be leveraging from to promote the wider region. Encouraging more Farm Gate businesses to open and having them connected for tours.

Gympie CBD.
Gympie CBD.

Division 6

Hilary Smerdon

I believe our biggest assets are land affordability, proximity to Brisbane with the bypass and just our lifestyle and our many attractions. We need to develop more industrial land and make establishing and running a business easier in this region. We need the processes easier or council staff to walk prospective investors through the steps.

Brian Thomas

The region’s biggest assets are our unutilised rural landscape. We should be looking at building on our agribusinesses to value add on all our resources. E.g. small crops, beef, dairy industries and tourism. We should be encouraging our young entrepreneurs to have ago to start small to medium businesses.

Mikki Lawson

The people are our biggest asset. farmers, small business and residents.


Division 7

Donna Reardon

Location; we are in a very central position, there are opportunities for capital growth because of the Gympie Region’s liveability, affordability and future economic prospects. I think we need to look at current facilities and services that promote the region’s assets, attractions and innovative ideas. Lets fast track affordable ideas, dust off old strategies, continue to deliver affordable family events, encourage people to stay and explore our extraordinary natural region.

Bob Leitch

We have many great assets. Our people, the environment, the Mary River, the Mary Valley, the Coastal region and the Western regions all provide great experiences. We also need to ensure we have adequate infrastructure in place to encourage people to these areas.

Warren Polley

The Saleyards. Airport. Natural Resources and Attractions. The Showgrounds. All of these are not operating at their full potential.

Gympie gold mines.
Gympie gold mines.

Division 8

Bob Fredman

Our biggest assets are our location, our country and our people. We’re in just the right place to have the benefits of the Sunshine Coast, without having to live there. The great schools, good shopping and good policing make living here a pleasure. And we have intangible things, like a rich sense of our history. We are people who like to help each other, with community participation rates that are way above the national average.

Trent Mitchell

The region’s biggest asset is it heritage. gold, logging and nature. Personally when I travel I visit all of these places and anything with some added family activity’s. If the disused rail Amamoor to Imbil had rail carts travelling south in the am and north in the pm I’m sure the tourists and community would all hire a cart and stop in the small towns for a picnic or possible spend the night in the rural towns. Or jump back on the cart and travel back to Gympie to see the rest of the region.

Lyndall Ensbey

Citizens are the biggest assets as well as the beauty and the regions location in Qld. We can provide upskilling of our citizens to encourage further growth to develop business and create employment opportunities as well as recreational opportunities for all divisions of the Gympie Region.