As a resident of Gladstone since the 60’s, this region has my heart. I‘ve lived, worked, raised my children, and invested in this region, and like many of you, have concerns about the direction we are heading.
High rates, job losses, lack of confidence from the business and investment sectors, unheard voices from our greater region, are issues that need to be tackled now.
No more ‘plans to have a plan’.
We need to implement resourceful, innovative and sensible solutions to problems that should have been addressed years ago! The ongoing costs associated with the Gladstone Airport and the Entertainment Centre need urgent attention.
We need to foster and develop new industries and new businesses that are not heavily impacted on by downward shifts in global commodity or resource prices. We need to support not hinder established small businesses that are the region’s economic core when we hit a down cycle. These are the employers of our children when industry isn’t recruiting. The tender process for goods and services needs to favour locals first.
I am fully aware of the detrimental impact of burdensome, clumsy, and costly bureaucracy whose red tape hinders growth, investment and confidence in the region. The tough corporate approach and attitude towards the community needs to be softened. Effective councils work with people, not against them. They are consultative, encourage community input, they listen. They are respectful of the dollars that we pay in rates each year and ensure prudent expenditure. They do not waste time, money or resources. They avoid creating hardship, not contribute to it.
Although I have lived in the city of Gladstone for most of my life, I am fully aware of the struggles and frustrations experienced by our greater regional and rural communities. None of us chose to have an amalgamated regional council. It was forced upon us and no one has lost their voice and representation more so than our outlying towns and villages. There needs to be a fairer and more equitable approach to the needs of smaller communities along with value for money investments and infrastructure. Agricultural and touristic initiatives need to be explored and encouraged. Band-aiding rather than solving long-term problems is not good enough nor does it make these communities feel like they are well represented or respected.
For over 20 years I have worked as either a volunteer, board member, or founding member of many ‘not for profit’ groups. I fully understand the challenges they face when the balance in costs is tipped against them. Every cost council inflicts on them impacts directly on the community. Sporting and recreational clubs, performing and arts groups, health and welfare groups, the list is endless, all contribute to the very fabric of our community. They should be respected and encouraged not pushed to the brink of folding.
I want to see the adverse ‘tags’ attached to Gladstone removed and its profile raised beyond our boundaries. Many industrial towns have achieved this and have a wonderful synergy between industry and community. Council needs to be more pro-active and co-operative when it comes to dealing with industry. They are here to stay! We are here to stay! We need to work together for the benefit of all.
The city centre needs to be vibrant, fluent, interesting and welcoming. Recent travel has allowed me to explore creative ways of encouraging small business and witness how micro economies are flourishing in countries experiencing economic difficulty. For this to be successful, greater co-operation and consideration is required by council. Time is money. Every delay in decision-making puts a start up business further into the red.
I feel my background in nursing makes me empathetic to a hurting community. My role as a company director makes me conscious of the careful control of funds and budgets to keep the balance right and how to scrutinise what does and doesn’t work financially. My history as a successful political lobbyist has strengthened my character when fighting for what is right and just.
My experience as a volunteer lets me see first hand, grass roots democracy at work. My heart tells me what we once had, we yearn for again. My head tells me to question and continue questioning “why are we in this terrible position after one of the greatest boom periods in our history?”