Outback for thinking
This week marks my last week on the road for 2017 having visited the Blackall-Tambo, Barcaldine and Longreach shires dotted along the Matilda Highway. Great country, even better people. While that meant another three days and two nights away, I’m loving staying real and connected to our members even after 25 years of doing it. With such a great team at Local Government House in Brisbane to back me up it’s possible to stay as connected as I am. After all, the LGAQ’s credo is Connect. Innovate. Achieve.
I started my travelling year in the north- west and finished it in the central-west. All up this year it’s been 91 nights away from home and 150 days out of the office. Between President Mayor Mark and myself, we have visited 66 councils this calendar year. Of course, LGAQ staff have visited every council in the state some multiple times.
Whilst on the road driving Barcaldine Mayor Robbie Chandler’s four-wheel drive (thanks, mate) I’ve had time to think about how similar yet different life is between city and rural and remote shires. I encountered a big mob of cattle being pushed along the highway (literally) by a drover half way between Barky and Blackall. That was a 10 minute stop and thank God I had a bull bar. I sat in two council meetings and listened to blokes in the front bar of two country pubs yarn on about the weather, the roads and being part of the FBI (forgotten bastards of the inland).
I saw a fantastic example of local leadership in the transformation of the historic Globe Hotel in Barcaldine to a truly first-class tourist attraction and another reason for tourists to stop in town. Better still, I listened to Mayor Rob’s long-term plan to link up the whole precinct including the Workers Heritage Centre into a fantastic interpretive hands-on attraction. What foresight.
I even spoke to the regional ABC office in Longreach to give the LGAQ 10 Point State Election plan a plug.
When I go bush I appreciate one abiding thing: time to think. Solitude has its virtues. I reckon our bush mayors, as busy as they are and with huge amounts of travel required to do their jobs, are at an advantage over us city slickers _ they have a sense of time and space and an ability to think long term. Perspective is a great thing in public life.
PS. The bottle of rum is on its way Mr Chandler and I didn’t hit a thing in your four-wheel drive. Honest.