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PRESIDENT AND PM IN BIRDSVILLE POWWOW

Weekly column from Council Courier e-newsletter by CEO Greg Hallam on Friday, 28 October 2016.

Our new President, Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson, has literally made a flying start to his new role.

Just three days into his term and on very short notice he flew to Birdsville to join fellow Mayors Geoff Morton and Bruce Scott at a ceremonial sod turning by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull outside Birdsville for the roll out of fibre optic cable to that remote community.

“Top Mark” as the scallywags are calling him jumped at the chance to press home to the Prime Minister, Federal Regional Development and Local Government Minister Fiona Nash and other federal ministers the need for Canberra to pay its 75 percent share of the outstanding $11 million in reimbursements for the use of council plant and equipment in flood recovery. Much of that is owed to western Queensland councils, who gained some solace last week from the State Government’s announcement that it would stump up its 25 percent share of the money.

President Mark also had discussions with Australia's leaders and senior Telstra representatives on improving telecommunications services to other remote and indigenous communities, the possibilities for economic development in the bush flowing from the advent of the digital economy, investment in beef roads and council financial sustainability.

All up it was a 16 hour day for the new President, eight of them in the air. He wasn't kidding when he told last week’s Annual Conference he was committed to connectivity as a key theme throughout his four year term as President. Actions always speak louder than words.

Before all that happened, I spent half a day with him this week so he could immerse himself in all of the LGAQ’s current issues. Talk about a busy start.

There was some good debate around the 83 Annual Conference motions passed last week and our advocacy team have already started writing to all the nominated governments and agencies conveying and explaining those decisions.

All those letters will be out the door of Local Government House by mid-December and then followed up by further contact with the recipients in the New Year. Many meetings will also be held in prosecuting those motions.

Finally, the LGAQ’s General Manager of Advocacy, Greg Hoffman, left the building today, ending a chapter in local government in Queensland and the Northern Territory that has spanned 50 years.

Much has been said in the last few weeks about Hoffy’s enormous contribution to our sphere of government by all and sundry including the Premier in person. All I can add is that it’s all true - the bloke is a fair dinkum local government legend the likes of whom we will never see again.

Well done mate and best wishes for decades of enjoyment to come in the next phase of your life.

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