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Bush councils, big problem solvers

Weekly column from Council Courier e-newsletter by CEO Greg Hallam, Friday, 14 July 2017.

I might be biased but it’s always struck me that while state and federal governments can talk about eloquently about innovative solutions to the nation’s challenges - things like energy, employment, climate change - local councils quietly and without fanfare keep on doing their part to implement said solutions for the benefit of their communities.

Don’t get me wrong. I know the task of managing local communities is never done perfectly but I also sometimes think that local councils do not give themselves enough credit for looking after the people around them, especially when you consider the limited funding and other resources they work with.

The key to councils managing these resources as best they can is for them to learn from each other, which is why I’m urging as many as possible to attend the LGAQ’s Bush Councils Convention in Charters Towers from 9 to 11 August.

The theme for this year’s convention is Cultivating Connectivity. This not merely a nod to LGAQ President Mark Jamieson’s mantra that improved connectivity in all its forms transforms communities. It’s also a reference to that need to learn from each other at every possible opportunity.

One look at the convention program will show you how much is being achieved in Queensland’s rural and regional communities, much of it from investments that are a fraction of those being channelled into urban areas.

Delegates will hear from leaders of bush councils on the best ways to go about asset management, encouraging growth in industries such as tourism, and getting the most out of community data.

Local Government Minister Mark Furner and Opposition local government spokesman Andrew Powell will be there, along with Queensland’s top public servant, Premier and Cabinet Director-General Dave Stewart.

But one speaker I’m especially looking forward to hearing from is Daniel Johnsen (sp ok), who has travelled from his native Kentucky in the US to Longreach to take up the role as Entrepreneur in Residence for our friends at the Remote Area Planning and Development Board.

Daniel is famed for running what he calls Startup Weekends, where a group of people come together and are given a business idea on a Friday and challenged to come up with a plan to develop it by the following Sunday.

I raised this very issue of innovation among rural and remote councils in an interview this week with ABC Radio’s Emma Griffiths about the Government’s plans to drive carbon pollution down to zero by 2050.  Click on the link -  my interview starts at the 2 hours, 13 minutes mark.

The bush is where Australia’s natural problem solvers live. Come along and hear their stories at Charters Towers next month.Then there’s the entertainment: singer Casey Donovan, celebrity chef Alastair McLeod, speed artist Brad Blaze and local songwriter Ron Sellars.

Go here to register for the Bush Councils Convention 'Cultivating Connectivity'.

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