0438 686 191
Glenda Kirk (Branch President)
Director Infrastructure Services
Mareeba Shire Council
Natasha Murray (Vice-President)
Douglas Shire Council
Joshua Flanders (Ambassador)
St George Project Services
Director of Engineering
Flinders Shire Council
Manager Asset Engineering
Cassowary Coast Regional Council
Director Infrastructure and Operations
Townsville City Council
Director Works & Building Services
Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council
NQ Branch Presidents Report
North Queensland is witnessing a new phenomenon as a result of COVID-19 with pockets of up to 10% growth in regional areas, particularly in the Cook Shire – the largest area in Australia with this level of growth. Bernard Salt has termed this phenomenon, Virus Escapees Seeking Provincial Australia (VESPA). See Salt’s article, ‘Meet the VESPAs changing our nation’, The Australian, 28 August 2020.
However, the statistics suggest this
influx into regional areas in the north was in progress before the pandemic
enabled work-from-home or work-from-anywhere and the drift away from the cost
of living of major cities.
According to the statistics, Cook, with growth of 11.9 per cent, had an influx of 484 residents between 2014-19, Mareeba grew 5.5 per cent (with 1,188 people), Aurukun 6.5 per cent (86 people) and Tablelands 2.1 per cent (515 people). It is great to see this move to the north however it may place additional demands on regional councils, particularly in underpopulated areas.
The Queensland Audit Office Report, ‘Local government entities: 2018-19 results of financial audits’ noted the inherent difficulties for councils in regional and rural areas given a smaller rateable base and the demands of delivery of infrastructure over large tracts of country. To this end, the Queensland government’s COVID Recovery Package which supports areas designated as tourism, advanced manufacturing and the agricultural sector is particularly welcome in north Queensland.
It was also a positive for our region to have funding allocated to build resilience against natural disasters in north and central Queensland residential areas. With the cyclone and fire seasons not far away, this may assist preparations for what is ahead this spring and summer. Hopefully, COVID19 will at least be behind us.
We saw a number of new mayors and councillors elected in our region at the March elections. In particular, I would like to welcome Angela Toppin, mayor of Mareeba Shire Council and look forward to working with Angela and the new council.
While COVID19 resulted in the postponement of the inaugural Savannah in the Round Country Music Festival which was to be held in Mareeba next month, event organisers have created a new event especially for the Far North - the Savannah Summer Series pop-up festival hits Cairns and Mareeba on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend with two days of country music followed by the Great Northern Bull Riding Series. Our regions have a lot to offer providing safe events in the current and future climate, and we look forward to welcoming festival-goers to our great part of the world.
But November is also not far away, and I look forward to catching up with our members and colleagues from North Queensland at the Annual Conference in Brisbane. We will have a lot to talk about.