Category Archives: General News

Cr Cheryl Gaedtke – Ordinary Meeting 8 July 2020

Category : General News

Cr Cheryl Gaedtke – Ordinary Meeting 8 July 2020

Agenda Item # 5 Matters of Public Interest
I read with interest a report titled Public Libraries as generators of community value and economic activity. The report found that the benefits generated by public libraries are at least double their costs. The report included direct benefits to users and non-users, and the support of economic activity in their local economies. Public libraries also act as an important safety net for disadvantaged and marginalised community members, promoting social equity as well as economic efficiency.

On 3rd July, Kilcoy lost one of its legends, with the passing of Mr Kenneth Joseph Kuhn. At the age of 20 years (1942) Mr Kuhn enlisted into the Air Forces. He returned to Australia in 1946 and was discharged from the Services soon after. Ken met Iris McKay, and the couple were married in 1951 and who later moved to Kilcoy to run their own dairy farm. Money was very hard to come by, however they were successful in life working hard to make ends meet and to provide for their family of five children. Ken was always a very active member in the Kilcoy community. He was a real storyteller and very proud of his family and his life accomplishments. Ken would have celebrated his 98th birthday on 5th November. Rest in Peace Ken, I will miss your stoic and patriotic presence at our community events.

Tourism and businesses in our region have benefited from increased visitation to our towns and the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail (BVRT) over the past few weeks. Car groups, families, walking groups, horse riders, bicycle riders and foodies are enjoying our region. One local accommodation business informed me that a group of walkers stayed overnight as part of their BVRT experience. The group normally fly overseas yearly to complete a walk, this year they stayed in their own country and even their own state to enjoy their hobby.

Agenda Item #29 Councillors’ Report
24 June Council Ordinary Meeting
24  June Council Workshop Meeting
25 June Hon Minister Stirling Hinchliffe MP visit to Somerset
The Minister was shown examples of Council working with community to deliver projects funded under COVID-19 Works for Qld.
25 June Local Recovery Group Meeting #1
25 June Storytime @ Home with Somerset Libraries recording
26 June Inaugural Local Recovery Group meeting
27 June Kilcoy District Progress Alliance Executive Committee meeting
30 June Kilcoy Interagency Meeting
30 June Community Builder Webinar
01 July Somerset Dam & District Progress Assn Committee meeting
Joan Bell and Frank Murray presented the association with a framed historic record of the Brennan family and their property Silverton Homestead.
02 July Brisbane Valley Heritage Trails Committee meeting – Kilcoy
The group provided a submission to the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail Strategic Plan, and the need for heritage tourism to be included. A discussion took place around the perfect opportunity for our region to tell its story, based on the reply from the submission.
02 July COVID Recovery Human and Social Sub Group Meeting
07 July Community Builder Webinar
07 July Kilcoy Tennis Club AGM

There has been a great deal of community interest shown towards recent council initiatives – Christmas Decorations project, SEQ Food Trails and Grant Guru.

A news article describes a jobs bonanza will be rolled out in a national $1 billion plan to stop millions of tonnes of waste being shipped off overseas while tackling the growing unemployment crisis. For Queensland, it means tens of millions of dollars in new investment for recycling facilities right across the state. Queensland is a major exporter of almost one million tonnes of recyclables, and more than any other state except for Victoria.

Cr Cheryl Gaedtke – Ordinary Meeting 24 June 2020

Category : General News

Cr Cheryl Gaedtke – Ordinary Meeting 24 June 2020

Agenda Item # 5 Matters of Public Interest
Congratulations to two Esk businesses who have been awarded for their efforts. The Esk Grand Hotel was acknowledged (4 June) as Best Pub 2020 by river 94.9FM Honour Roll. The Esk Caravan Park & Brisbane Valley Rail Trail Motel were thrilled to announce that it won the coveted 2020 Gordon Harris Turnaround Award. The Gordon Harris Turnaround Award recognises a caravan park operator that has made significant changes to their business to effectively “turn it around”.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) has advised that at the time of the November 8 (2019) Jimna fires, a firebreak was constructed around Jimna, and the cleared vegetation stacked in piles. On Tuesday 23 June, the piles were burned off, one by one. Residents were encouraged to chat to a local brigade member or volunteer community educator by visiting the Jimna Public Hall. QFES, in conjunction with other key stakeholders will develop hazard mitigation plans.

Senior Sergeant Bruce Peel will retire of July 12, as officer in charge at Lowood Police Station, where he has held this position since October 13 2018, and has served a total of 34 years of distinguished service. I take this opportunity to wish Senior Sergeant Peel a very happy retirement

Agenda Item # 29 Councillors’ Report
10 June Council Ordinary Meeting & Workshop Meeting
10 June Kilcoy State High School P & C Assn Monthly Meeting
11 June Brisbane Valley Interagency Monthly Meeting
16 June Rural Aid Webinar
16 June Meeting with Regional resident
17 June Inspection of Regional Road, overgrown allotment, property access
19 June Inspection of Regional Road
23 June Rural Aid Webinar
23 June Regional Recovery Workshop – SEQ Region

Thank goodness for social platforms that provide a safe and easy method to hold meetings remotely, and can cater for up to 60 plus members. However, I look forward to when it is permissible to attend community meetings and community events once again. I am missing the interaction with our community members and enjoying events that proudly showcase our region.

Cr Cheryl Gaedtke – Ordinary Meeting 10 June 2020

Category : General News

Cr Cheryl Gaedtke – Ordinary Meeting 10 June 2020

Agenda Item # 5 Matters of Public Interest
The inquiry into the bungled online publication of council election results has made no recommendations beyond calling on the Parliament to “note the contents” of its report. It is disappointing to learn this outcome following the critical submissions made to the parliamentary inquiry about the March 28 election night, where results took lengthy delays to be posted on the Electoral Commission of Queensland’s (ECQ) website. I guess at least, it is reassuring that the inquiry’s report advised that there was no suggestion that the integrity of the voting process or the legitimacy of the results were in any way compromised by the technical issues that was evident during the LG Elections.

On a much brighter note, I wish to share the absolutely brilliant project undertaken by the Hazeldean Rural Fire Brigade which began on the 30th May 2020. The Mural Artist, Ross Holloway is working on distinguishing pictorial history recorded on the walls of the station and which have been taken from photos whilst brigade crews have been onsite at local call outs. There has been a lot of community support and interest generated with this developing project. The brigade used its own funds and felt it was a way to give back to community after years of generous donations made by community and recently a local group. Apparently, they all feel a little bit of it belongs to them.

BUSY At Work is running a Certificate 1 in Construction Traineeship for local unemployed in the Somerset region. The course will be run from the Kilcoy Motorcross Club commencing on 29 June and participants will gain valuable skills that will help them gain employment within the Industry. Approximately 15 plus people will come on board. The group will work with Kilcoy Indoor Sports Centre Manager, to access first aid training and interview space. Participants will be doing a lot of hands on work including, painting, fencing, basic carpentry and general property maintenance. An RTO will work with the group to provide them with a Construction White Card and First Aid certification. Traineeships like this are mostly conducted in larger towns and unfortunately regional areas tend to miss out, so this is a great opportunity for people in the area who would like to move in to the construction industry.

Agenda Item # 38 Councillors’ Report
27 May Council Ordinary Meeting/Workshop Meeting
28 May Poultry Building meeting – Kilcoy Showgrounds
28 May Kilcoy Recreation Grounds Committee Quarterly Meeting
01 June Further Budget Discussion
02 June Meeting Local Kilcoy Business
04 June Mary Street Kilcoy Businesses greetings
05 June Kilcoy Race Club discussion
09 June Meeting with Local Kilcoy Businesses – CBD Roadworks

With the current financial and health challenges faced by us all, the forthcoming State and Federal Government grants to our council are gratefully accepted and seen as a significant building block of local economic recovery.

Cr Cheryl Gaedtke – Ordinary Council Meeting 27 May 2020

Category : General News

Cr Cheryl Gaedtke – Ordinary Meeting 27 May 2020

Agenda Item # 5 Matters of Public Interest
It may be a wonderful and financially rewarding opportunity for our tourism operators and business owners to concentrate on attracting Brisbane residents who want to get out of town over the Ekka long weekend (14-16 August) to make their way to our beautiful region and experience our country hospitality.

It was heartwarming to see the overwhelming support offered to Mr Tom Dunning of Dundas after losing his family home which he has lived in since a boy, for some 60 years. Mr Dunning recently suffered the loss of his wife and received a serious health diagnosis of prostate cancer. Due to the generosity of approximately 650 community members, the target of $40,000 through a fundraiser Facebook page titled “Help for Tom Dunning” has almost been achieved.

“Changing Communities. Changing Lives” was the theme of National Volunteer Week which was held from Monday 18 May to Sunday 24 May. This year there were many virtual events held nationwide to celebrate this milestone. It is also worthy to note that a story about Mrs Yvonne Hilliard who has volunteered at the Fernvale Information Centre for more than 10 years was provided by a local newspaper. Cheers and sincere thanks to all of our council’s volunteers, without you our community would be a very dull place to visit. Yvonne is looking forward to returning to the information centre and was quoted as saying, “We’re all really chomping at the bit whilst we all have to sit at home at present”.

I note that the historic Lyceum Hall located at Esk burnt to the ground ten years ago on 10th May 2010.

Agenda Item # 42 Councillors’ Report
13 May Ordinary Council Meeting/Confidential Workshop Meeting – Esk
14 May Brisbane Valley Interagency Meeting (Via Zoom)
18 May Somerset Regional Arts Development Fund Committee Meeting (Via Zoom)
We have a very strong and progressive committee, many thanks to all who have volunteered for their committee position. Also, sincere thanks to our Regional Librarian who is also our RADF Co-Ordinator, Ms Smith goes beyond her role to ensure our region is blessed with cultural experiences and legacies.
19 May LDMG Meeting – Esk
Somerset Regional Council’s Economic Development & Tourism Committee Meeting – Esk
20 May Local Government – Roles and Functions of Queensland Integrity Agencies Webinar
23 May Esk Tennis Club – Meeting
Many thanks to the club for organising a very informative meeting. I support that council must push forward with a master plan for this precinct, and which involves all key stakeholders represented as a steering committee.
24 May Local Business Identity meeting – local manufacturing options
I believe timing is paramount and our council needs to explore this premise further.
25 May D Modistach & P Close – Hopetoun Playing Fields Kilcoy On-Site Meeting – Musical event
Two local Kilcoy identities who wish to organise a free musical event for the Kilcoy Community to come together and support one another after suffering the impacts of bush fires and COVID-19. Subject to COVID-19 restrictions, the event “Music on the Field” is proposed to be held on 14 November 2020 at the Hopetoun Playing Fields, Kilcoy.
26 May Kilcoy Interagency Meeting (Via Zoom)

Manufacturing in our Region?

Category : General News

I received a phone call from a local business identity today and the conversation was all about how to become more economically independent and the need to initiate or grow existing local manufacturing.
One of the positive side effects of the pandemic has been the acknowledgment for most Australians that we still have a manufacturing industry.  I think it is fair to say that we are really good at what we do. In fact, the main distinctive characteristic of our manufacturing is quality.  It is also fair to say that those who have survived globalisation have generally done so because they are smart and do things better than their competitors.
There are certain realities about cheap overseas production and that has many advantages for Australia, including in the provision of supply chain products that keep end-products competitive.
However, there is a real desire that one of the social forces that emerges from 2020 will be a new sense of quality over quantity.
We need to adopt the attitude to spend a bit more on an Australian product that will last a long time.
Importantly, Governments may also decide to genuinely use their procurement might to support nation-building domestic industries and innovative local enterprise.
I am interested to drive this conversation further.  Let’s start to talk about our future, and the need to adopt a strategy that bears “Proudly made in Australia” labelled goods.

Councillor Report – Council Ordinary Meeting – Wednesday 13 May 2020

Category : General News

Cr Cheryl Gaedtke – Ordinary Meeting 13 May 2020

Agenda Item # 5 Matters of Public Interest
It is with sadness that I reflect on the following events since our last Ordinary Council Meeting:
• The passing of a long-term Toogoolawah identity and true gentleman, Mr John Douglas Seymour. John joined his Father, Wilfred Seymour who founded Seymour’s Transport in 1924. The business was awarded an International Harvester agency in 1929, and which continued for over 55 years, it also took on a Toyota dealership in 1970. John 95, was a very pivotal part of the business and continued to play an active role until only a number of years ago.
• The passing of long-term Kilcoy Shire Council employee, Mr Eric Thomas Gray. Eric 91, worked at Kilcoy Shire Council from 1956 to 1991, and during the latter part of this time was my immediate supervisor. Eric held the position of Cost Clerk and Acting Shire Clerk and I respected Eric as my mentor and valued the work ethic that he instilled in me. Prior to 1985 and computerisation council utilised the Kalamazoo loose leaf ledger system, and I can recall being taught by Eric that all columns must balance preciously by the use of manual calculators, not even a one cent discrepancy was tolerated.
• The horrific accident that occurred in Victoria on 22 April 2020 which resulted in the biggest single loss of life of Victorian Police claiming the lives of four Police Officers. As we are in roles that relate directly to service to our communities, loss of life is the ultimate price to pay, and one not expected. They have now joined the legacy of our Australian’s heroes.

Agenda Item # 42 Councillors’ Report
Anzac Day Commemoration 2020 was remembered by many in our communities, and in a very different way to how we normally do this. Very proud and grateful communities gathered at the front of their properties with flags, candles, recordings and live connection to Anzac Day Commemoration broadcasts. Well done to those who took the time and effort to commemorate this special day. Given the positive feedback, this type of commemoration may well become a future trend.

I have received numerous complaints about the unacceptable behaviour of some motorists in specific areas of our region. It appears that more roads have become popular meeting spots for burnouts, the practice of keeping a vehicle stationary and spinning its wheels. Burnouts has the potential to become a serious form of competition and entertainment, and the practice is illegal when carried out on public property. I acknowledge the difficulty in policing this matter, however a holistic approach may be required to deal with the current and future unsafe public road use.

The provision of online technology has kept us in touch were possible during the COVID period. Zoom held meetings has provided the platform to conduct various meetings, and I am aware that one local community group held their monthly meeting via messenger. Webinars are another successful online platform that offers interaction at different levels. I have taken part in two episodes of the Rural Aid Community Builders Series webinars that focus on community rebuilding and resilience and will cover a range of topics designed to inspire towns and prepare them for post COVID-19. Ideas will be shared, help with tourism initiatives, discuss long-term viability, what grants are available and how to access them, and more. The first two topics were focused on What Makes a Great Town? and Building Good Businesses in Small Towns. Peter Kenyon is the facilitator and possesses great experience and knowledge. Many years ago, Peter Kenyon facilitated a public town meeting in Kilcoy which resulted in community invigoration and the experience certainly provided the locals with an “up an at ‘em” attitude. I can report that Peter definitely implanted community with a caring, positive and fresh perspective about our town, and given the current challenges, these attributes are needed region wide.

Councillor Report – Ordinary Council Meeting – Wednesday 22 April 2020 – Cr Gaedtke

Category : General News

Agenda Item # 5 Matters of Public Interest

Cr Gaedtke congratulated Cr Brieschke on her appointment as Deputy Mayor, and commented on the calibre of Cr Brieschke.  Cr Gaedtke mentioned that Cr Brieschke is approaching her third year as Councillor for this Council, and has displayed unwavering dedication, ongoing support and sheer effort during her Councillor role for the two previous terms.

Agenda Item #35 Councillors’ Report

Kilcoy residents and businesses are generally adhering to the health requirements as stipulated under COVID-19. It was evident that campers followed State Government health orders and did not camp over Easter as in previous years, the roads were very quiet and little activity experienced in and around Kilcoy. Metro North and West Morton health authorities have reported that any COVID-19 affected residents in our region are well on to recovery.

Our local gym instructor is using Zoom platform to broadcast her exercise classes over Facebook, with a great response from her membership.

Lastly, I wish to thank voters who cast their votes under such challenging times and I look forward to working as part of the Team Somerset for the next four years and acquiring achievements that will meet with our residents’ and businesses’ needs and future goals and objectives.

The Final Word from your Candidate

Category : General News

The Somerset Newspaper – Wednesday 25 March 2020 Edition

“The Final Word from your Candidate”

I enjoy representing our residents, those who live all the way from Jimna in the north to Minden in the south.  Over the past four years, I have attended various events, fetes, fairs, carnivals and meetings throughout our 5373 km2.  


These memories are openly shared on my Councillor Facebook page.  Finally, I have enjoyed working with fellow Councillors and Staff to achieve our vision and associated goals. 

I hope you agree that I am worthy to represent you for the next four years.

Councillor Cheryl Gaedtke – Listening to the People

Category : General News

Councillor Cheryl Gaedtke – Listening to the People  – Week 4 of the Campaign trail

It has been a very clean and respectful election to date, and I do not expect that to change. I have enjoyed taking part in three “Meet the Candidates” nights, Glamorgan Vale – Monday 16 March; Lowood – Tuesday 17 March and Somerset Civic Centre – Wednesday 18 March. Thank you, to all organisers for providing the opportunity for the public to attend these functions and to meet their candidates.
At these functions, it was expressed by some ratepayers that they share concerns about the condition of their roads. These concerns will be brought back to Council for further clarification. It was also pointed out that the lack of footpaths is a concern to some of our residents. The need to examine associated policies and procedures was discussed as well. I believe the strongest identified matter, was that our residents expect to see their Councillors out and about.

If re-elected, I would support organising open sessions where Councillors and residents can meet and chat about matters of importance. A neighbouring council organises what they refer to as “Council’s Listening Tour” and provide in advance various dates, times and locations where this valued networking will take place. I am also very supportive of regional surveys, which would provide connectivity with all residents, and provide council with a snapshot of its performance as seen through the eyes of its constituents.

I reiterate that Local Government Association of Queensland conducted recent research that found Queenslanders’ satisfaction with their local councils has increased this year compared with satisfaction levels reported in 2018. The research provided feedback that Queenslanders want councils to get on with their job and are not interested in playing the political games that occupy those in other levels of government. Sixty percent of those surveyed were satisfied with their local council, a marked improvement of the 55 percent in 2018.

I look forward to continuing my hard work and achieving the best for our communities over the next four years if re-elected. You can read the questions as presented to the Candidates through various providers, by taking a tour on my website, I have listed questions with my responses.

Meet the Candidate Night – Somerset Civic Centre – 18 March 2020

Category : General News

Wednesday 18th March 6.30pm

Given the current situation with Coronavirus, we could have an audience or not. All appropriate precautions will be taken on the evening. However, we will be filming the evening and publishing the results on the internet for voters to review.

Questions for meet the candidates

Section 1.
Each candidate will get 90 seconds to “Tell us about yourself and why you should be elected”

I am forth generation to our beautiful region, so I totally understand where we live. I have seen many changes and seen the effects of incorrect decisions. I have 35 years involvement with Local Government, providing me with experience, knowledge and an understanding that is strongly embedded. During this current term, I accomplished a Diploma of Local Government – Elected Members, which has provided me with perspectives about the role and responsibilities of Elected Members. The role and responsibilities include units such as manage conflict, coordinate and facilitate a change process, provide leadership within the council and community, which represents three of the 14 units contained in the Diploma.

I have worked tirelessly with local groups over my life and very humbling was awarded the 2015 Citizen of the Year for our region. Without our volunteers our communities do not operate, so I truly appreciate each and every volunteer.

I have enjoyed the past four years, and working with a progressive team which consist of Councillors and Council staff. I believe our region is about to be rewarded for its current status of many attributes and emerging initiatives. Exciting times ahead for our region, so we need to be on our front foot to take advantage of opportunities.

I seek re-election to continue to build an inspiring regional vision within our team of leaders. There are fresh ideas and initiatives that I would like to explore over the next four years.

Section 2.
Each candidate will be asked three of the following questions. Round one questions will be handed out and responded, then the second round of questions will be handed out.

Answer two questions (90 seconds each question) in two rounds.

1. Council has $60m in the bank, how do you believe this is best used for the people of Somerset Region.
I come from a local government background of once being employed as Manager Finance & Administration in a small rural council where we were challenged at times to deliver an annual balanced budget, so I am very aware of cutting your cloth according to your situation. Therefore, limiting what services were provided to take into account the resources you have. I understand and support that there is good and bad debt and this applies equally to Local Government. There is an attitude that intergenerational debt is a positive debt strategy. I can share that I am aware of Queensland Councils whose financial performance is closely monitored by external bodies. I would suggest that our council’s finances should never be so poorly managed that this scrutiny needed.
There are many positives with having cash reserves. No 1. The interest achieved on the cash investment has over time provided a return to each rate payer by reducing the total rates levied. Therefore, providing and supporting the fact that our region has the cheapest council rates in Queensland. No 2. A very important part of council’s budget is grant revenue, and having cash reserves offers our council to be in a very strong position to obtain grants that can be matched immediately with cash. So, council is already providing cheaper rates and securing important grant money to provide much needed infrastructure. To conclude, and as just one initiative, it would be financially astute to utilise funds to create better tourism opportunities by driving economic development in our towns. This investment would provide the economic stimulus to engage existing businesses and create new businesses. We need to become a destination that is well respected and popular.

2. If elected, what do you want to be famous for in 4 years’ time?
I would like to think that there was broad community support that I was part of a very progressive and vision driven council that achieved success by thinking outside the square. Using innovative theories to achieve this goal. Being strategic in delivery of infrastructure and future development of the region. Well considered decisions and associated planning that will make our region the envy of other local government areas. Two things that define us – Patience when we have nothing and our attitude when we have everything. A legacy that resonates full support from the majority of our region’s residents, and is acknowledged in time to come. To adopt an attitude not to allow the fear of failure to impede progression – JK Dowling sums it up brilliantly – “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” I also enjoy the attitude that it didn’t happen overnight. It happened slowly and painfully over time. But it did eventually happen.

3. How should SRC prepare the community for the effects of climate change
Firstly, our climate has been changing for as long as we have been here. And please remember that we have not been here for all that long. The First Nation Peoples have much more understanding of our Mother Earth and how best to respect it. Obviously, the number of effects caused by climate changes will be dependent on the location of the council area. Coastal councils will have very much different needs and associated planning than our area, being rural. Water security is already a very important matter that needs management with different levels of key stakeholders. Securing and guaranteeing the most basic commodity – water – is becoming a key issue in the challenges that many Queensland Councils are facing. Our Council has joined forces with Lockyer Valley Regional Council to ensure water security for both regions. Council will also continue to bring climate change effects into its Disaster Management administration and associated planning. Council will also be proactive in meeting the changes and collaborating with those most affected in the region. Working through all matters as a collaborative force.

4. Recycling has been on the wish list of many residents for a long time. Recycling would come at a cost to council and therefore ratepayers. How would you sell recycling to the residents of Somerset?
The only way I would sell recycling at all, is when I can see that this service would be the very best option for our region and our environment. Our staff are very proactive with this subject, and provide ongoing relevant and reliable advice. At this stage we are examining best practices and how our council can be included to rectify and protect this very environmentally destructive issue. Waste management and how to sustainably deal with this issue is an ongoing problem. Some ground breaking initiatives have been taken up by Australian Councils, by seeking energy from waste and diverting waste from landfill. Amongst other actions, it is good news that our Council is participating in a regional waste alliance (SEQ West Waste Alliance) with Ipswich, Logan, Lockyer Valley, and Redland Bay councils. I want to see a clean and healthy environment for my granddaughters, so this subject is very dear to me.
At the end of the day the decision will be made which best suits our region, its population and waste generation. There are many layers of financial, environmental and recyclable arguments to be explored and conquered in order to move this matter forward to provide the very best solution to our region. Show me this, and then I will be more than happy to sell recycling to our entire region!

5. What action do you think that Somerset Council should take to get the Brisbane Valley Highway upgraded?
Council is already in constant contact with State Government about this very matter. Council has collected and provided State Government with reliable data that supports it argument that adequate state funding should be budgeted to improve this major highway. Council will continue to collaborate with the State Government about the necessary needs of all users of this highway. The strategy is about lobbying the State Government with irrefutable facts, statistics and data continually until these objectives are understood and incorporated into future planning needs and associated budget provisions.

6. Somerset Regional Council is one of the largest economic entities in the region. What action can they take to improve the Somerset economy?

I value our agricultural inheritance and the economic benefits derived from this local industry. I would like to see successful businesses established in our region, businesses that support the needs of our region. Tourism is an important economic driver, and council is very active in this area. Collaboration with peak industry bodies and outside influences and connections will provide innovative opportunities. I want to see our natural assets respected and to continue to be managed in a sustainable way. And the big-ticket item, is to seek collaboration with other levels of government to promote ourselves as an area just outside of Brisbane for the home of regional services and/or facilities.

Council can provide a very open door and helpful attitude to enquirers who wish to explore setting up conforming businesses in our region. Council can also ensure that its fees and charges are in line with other Council’s, we must present as a welcoming and affordable council to potential enquirers. I would also like to see a very high strategic level of involvement between Councillors and Directors, and with peak industry bodies to explore potential opportunities that can be promoted within our region. Council would benefit from regular networking sessions with our businesses, to explore the negative and positive aspects of business interaction in our region. Open communication and successful collaboration are very important to provide a pathway forward.

7. Tourism is an important contributor to the Somerset economy. What do you think are the most important assets? What strategy do you think Council should employ to promote them?
Our most important assets are our natural assets. We do not own all of the natural assets of course; however, we do need to work very closely with the governing bodies of these facilities. Council needs to be very proactive with the governing bodies to ensure that Council’s needs, wants and aspirations are met for now and well into the future. Red tape and heavily regulated use of these facilities will stifle sustainable development and associated use and potential benefits.
Council has very robust methods in marketing itself. Our staff are very active in all areas of tourism, economic development, and met regularly with peak bodies – RTO’s etc to stay abreast of tourism and economic initiatives and opportunities. Size is against us at times, when we would dearly enjoy taking part in neighbouring council’s marketing initiatives, we simply do not have the numbers to take advantage of regional initiatives.
I attend the quarterly Council of Mayors- Economic Development Committee meetings and these meetings represent all South East Queensland Councils. Agenda items include trade and investments events, regional food and agricultural tourism trail, international business mission, smart regions projects 5G and regional collaborative opportunities.

8. Council used to put out skips for curbside pickup. This cost has been transferred to residents through a voucher system. Taking into account the costs, do you think a curbside pickup similar to other councils would be of benefit to the community?
I am not aware of this occurring under the amalgamated Somerset Regional Council. I have checked with our staff and they have confirmed that this has not occurred in our region since amalgamation. So unfortunately, unable to provide a factual reply.

9. The Brisbane Valley Rail Trail brings in valuable tourism dollars into the region. What would be your plan to increase traffic on the Rail Trail?
A very good question and a very easy question, but unfortunately not that easy to actually enact. Councillors, Council staff, community businesses and members are very proactive with achieving a collective operation and marketing platform for the BVRT. Conversations have been occurring by many bodies over many years. Yes, things move slowly, and especially when there are around four council areas, and multiply community groups and businesses utilizing the asset, which of course is owned and administered by TMR.
The general consensus is that one overarching body should be responsible for the operation and ongoing administration of the asset. Regardless of the pace of this initiative, the establishment of a steering committee is supported by I believe all of the key stakeholders. Council is supporting this formulation by gathering its own stats and data associated with the current use of the trail and which information will be provided to the steering committee and/or TMR.
There are residents who are very unsupportive of the BVRT, however I can only see positive results from this state-owned asset. To ensure its success, the establishment of the steering committee is paramount. Until this occurs, the asset and associated use is not achieving the leverage it should and quite frankly has the ability to achieve on a world platform. I am aware local groups have done a wonderful job; however, it needs much more support and at a higher level. Waiting, Waiting, Waiting!!

10. Town CBD’s form the core of social and economic activity for many communities. What action do you think that council should take to revitalize the town CBD’s?
A very easy question. We need to take notice of other towns that have revitalized themselves, towns that have established who they are and how to promote this. Council has discussed streetscaping and how this should be incorporated over the entire region, and the associated impact on the budget. This has been a very hot topic with Kilcoy businesses and residents since amalgamation, and that was in 2008! Our towns need colour, they need greenery and through planned beautification projects, which will be designed as maintenance free and cost-effective projects, our towns will regain confidence and pride. Visitation will increase as a direct reflection.
There are really great examples to use almost everywhere. When we travelled to America in 2018, we came across many towns that revitalized themselves because they had to. It was evident that there were major economic changes, and some really smart initiatives were found and brought to life to the benefit of the town. Not rocket science, but one that needs serious consideration and commitment for a period of time that will produce the desired outcomes regional wide.

11. Using Fernvale as an example, how would you resolve a new development application that will negative impact/s on existing business’s and /or residents?
When I completed my Diploma of Local Government – Elected Members, the very first remark made to us by our Planning facilitator was that Town Planning produces Winners and Losers – How true! Town planning involves controlling both existing and proposed developments, based on strategic planning and development control played out in the statutory framework including the development assessment or application process. Planning instruments have layers of rules, regulations, conditions, what can occur, what cannot occur etc etc. Depending on the type of development application, there can be many concurrent agencies that are involved with the development application process. They will access the development application and give their opinion and points for approval or reasons for refusal.
It must be remembered that the Town Planning schemes are open for community consultation and review. It must also be remembered that State Government has a great deal of influence over the finished schemes. State Government has greater powers than Local Government.
At the end of the day, and after all of the above has been worked through, as far as my role as Councillor, the best action I can take is to be completely involved with the community and be fully aware of all aspects of the development application. From experience, I must consider all points that are causing community concern, and also actually visit the location of the proposed development to fully understand the application. As most of you will be aware, Council can refuse a development application, however the developer has the right of appeal. If Council’s reasons for refusal are inadequate, there is a good chance that the developer may win the appeal, against council. The Planning and Environmental Court will deliver the decision, and ratepayers ultimately pay the legal costs.

12. Kilcoy Pastoral Company has and continues to expand. This expansion is putting pressure on the housing and other public infrastructure of Kilcoy. What would you see as the council’s role to alleviate the problem?
As far as public infrastructure, there are various governmental and statutory bodies responsible for ensuring they are planning to meet future needs of their specific asset. It is well known that rentals in Kilcoy are extremely hard to find and the rent is not cheap. The success of Kilcoy Global Foods is beneficial to our town and region, however along with success comes challenges. Challenges that can be overcome with due consideration, timely and common-sense approach. I am aware that the provision of adequate and affordable housing is currently being considered by KGF. I am aware of some of the forward planning considerations of the company. I envisage Council and the company working together to overcome identified housing issues.
From my knowledge and through my past employment with Kilcoy Shire Council and the missed opportunity to achieve the Kilcoy By-Pass, or Heavy Vehicle Detour many years ago, we as a Council and community struggle now to raise the priority with State Government – Department of Transport & Main Roads for the need of this heavy vehicle detour to be considered important enough for a funding allocation in the foreseeable future.
Council will continue to lobby State Government in an effort to engage with TMR and to address the list of the future works and associated state wide priority list and funding sources, and seek that the project be given more importance for a faster implementation on their asset management plan.

13. In areas where there are new and/or existing housing developments, how can council improve community connectivity between the different areas?
Council can lead, but cannot make identified needs happen unless the community wish for the same. The town planning scheme provides for sustainable planning, and council ultimately has the right to question housing developments that may not be conducive to the identified areas. Through town planning schemes, certain facilities can be positioned that will encourage community connectivity. Once again, any development application must have reasonable and relevant grounds for refusal. In saying this, Council can impose conditions of the development application that it considers necessary to meet community expectation and functionality.
Council has employed staff that work specifically in the area of social wellbeing of our communities. The staff are very much in tune with each community and its specific needs. There are various ways that council can obtain the necessary information that will assist to make informed choices and decisions based around community need and expectation.
The residential structure of housing estates will ultimately offer the acceptance of each other and the livability of each area. We are aware that estates that have a high proportion of rentals do not always provide the environment for ongoing harmony. Council can be very quickly brought into matters that are based more so around a civil matter. At times it is frustrating for all concerned when council needs to enact Local Laws and provisions under the planning scheme to rectify practices that are not approved or sit outside council’s regulations, and mainly due to the process and procedures that must be followed and of course the time taken to do this legally.

14. Taking into account the complex jurisdictions, how could Twin Bridges and Savages Crossing be improved as a tourist attraction?
Management of Twin Bridges, Savages Crossing and Lowood bend:
Council continues to work with key stakeholders to manage reserves in Somerset, particularly Twin Bridges, Savages Crossing and Lowood Bend. Council does this to curb anti-social behaviour and protect waterways. Council is working at a strategic level with other Government Departments about the future management of the areas. Council is also funding a project with Seqwater and the Resilient Rivers Initiative through an external consultant to investigate sustainable recreational solutions at Hills Reserve and Savages Crossing. Consultants employed to work through the many identified issues of these areas will provide a report that will offer methods to overcome the many issues identified at these public areas. There are many jurisdictions and many layers to work through in a very collaborative process. There will also be budgetary provisions and it is envisaged that the learnings from project will be transferable to other recreational sites.

15. As a Somerset Councilor, you are a Councilor for the whole of Somerset. How would you ensure that you are a representative for the whole community?
Very easy, it is called getting out and making yourself known, and taking a real interest in each community. As Councillors we receive invitations to attend various events and meetings, so by accepting these invitations we get to know our communities. We learn what makes them tick, what are the main issues, how do we overcome these identified issues? I would encourage more groups to invite Councillors along to their functions and or meetings, this is a very powerful way to keep Councillors informed as to what is happening in their own back yard.
I cannot stress more importantly that by attending various community events and meetings, one achieves a real sense of community and provides an empowerment to make accurate decisions around that particular community. Councillors are then performing on what they know, in preference to hear say. I enjoy the ability to represent any constituent, anywhere in the region. I also appreciate that an issue in the north may be experienced in the south, so providing a real connectivity based around the same issue and best way to deal with it. I also appreciate the fact that I can bounce any of these issues off my fellow Councillors to obtain a wider perspective of the matter.

16. Do you believe tourism would be enhanced by more fully profiling the region’s rich indigenous history? If so, how can the region’s rich indigenous history be bought more to light and profiled so both residents and visitors / tourists have the opportunity to more fully understand and appreciate that history.
Yes, I agree that tourism would be enhanced by more fully profiling the region’s rich indigenous history, and you don’t have to look far afield to actually witness this happening and happening extremely well. At the last Tourism and Economic Development Committee Meeting, I gave a brief presentation around cultural tourism. This would be a perfect platform to provide by visual and audio recordings, the history of our indigenous peoples.
This initiative would also help to recognise the importance of our indigenous culture and values. There is a great deal of learning that can be achieved by approaching this style of tourism. Other areas have provided this with a great deal of success and interest, we need not attempt this alone, but with support and knowledge from others.
There is always funding opportunities to assist with providing necessary budgets to assist this project to come to fruition. The project could include hard print and electronic records being made available through council’s resources. The silent benefit from this type of project would be the possibility of building bridges with our indigenous peoples, perhaps our youth would embrace this and then carry on with this positive attitude and approach.

17. Council seems to be encouraging people to plant trees on their own land. What will you do to ensure council also plants trees that improve the environment and tree scape in our towns so they present well to travellers and visitors. Entry and exits to town….around sporting ovals etc.
If this an identified initiative that has wide community support, then obviously council needs to provide the policy and procedures to commence this initiative. The initiative would then be taken up in the budgetary preparations. I am aware that this type of tree plantings was discussed under Kilcoy Shire Council by local residents and unfortunately the idea never developed to a point to make it a reality. At that stage it was envisaged to provide the trees on the eastern approach to Kilcoy. Obviously, as part of the planning process we need to ensure that the correct trees are planted.
I would support such an initiative as a very worthy one. I would also think that this would complement any CBD beautification project, and should form part of the overall project. Council is currently working with overall landscaping master plan for the Toogoolawah Condensery. This master plan will provide future strategic plantings and which has been achieved by broad community consultation. Once this project is completed, it will reflect as a win win situation – for community and council. It will provide a legacy that will increase visitation and provide a natural setting to a very beautiful landmark.

18. Lantana and weeds are an issue. What will you do to ensure council is more effective in the management of weeds and lantana on roadsides and on council land?
This matter is already being addressed, and was done almost twelve months ago. An additional annual levy of $10 was introduced in the rates and charges which was specifically raised to fund the employment of personnel to undertake the removal of lantana in strategic areas. Council will work with adjoining landowners to work toward removing the lantana and reduce the risk of the weed regrowing.
State Government offers the weed classification to council, and this particular weed is at a level that council does not have the authority to instruct landowners to control its growth. It is illegal to sell the plant, but I have been told that lantana is being sold at flea markets. The other negative fact around the treatment of lantana is that State Government, and due to its classification does not recognise it as a weed of significance, and will not treat the weed. That is why you will notice the highways and any state-controlled road will have an abundance of healthy flowering lantana bushes.
This is so destructive, and it completely takes over the landscape and the availability of grazing for animals, and not to mention the noxiousness of this weed to animals. So, you can clearly see our frustrations, and the real effect on our country by this backward attitude to weed control. It is a very serious problem, and one we all need to address, sooner rather than later.

19. Do you believe council should pay an active role in building the technical and practical capabilities of its field workforce? Do you believe council should utilize the capabilities of its internal workforce before engaging external parties to do field work?
From my involvement with Local Government and knowing all that I do about this subject, my reply is a huge YES. I am happy to report that this is actually what is occurring in our region. I have seen the pros and cons of employing outside parties. I have seen the affects of employing contractors in preference to keeping the work in house. Obviously, my comment is not an overarching comment, there will always be a need to hire contractors, but I do believe this will be for specific works. Keeping our workforce trained and engaged is the most important human resource objective. The old saying but if I train them up, they will leave. I prefer to think that if you treat your employees well, you will end up with trained, engaged and happy staff. This premise is then displayed each and every day in their working life and in their roles.
A human resource message which we should all live by is very simply put – Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.

20. Leadership is what we are looking to vote for! It is what we expect form our representatives. Research shows many organisations are “over managed” and “under led”! What do you see as the difference between ‘management” and “leadership” in your role as a councillor?
Leaders help themselves and others to do the right things. They set direction, build an inspiring vision, and create something new. Leadership is about mapping out where you need to go to win as a team or an organisation; and it is dynamic, exciting, and inspiring. Yet while leaders set the direction, they must also use management skills to guide their people to the right destination, in a smooth and efficient way.
Leaders are people who do the right thing; manager are people who do things right.
I also think that leaders adopt an attitude not to allow the fear of failure to impede progression – JK Dowling sums it up brilliantly – “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” I also enjoy the attitude that it didn’t happen overnight. It happened slowly and painfully over time. But it did eventually happen.

21. Are you prepared to be unpopular with your fellow councillors (or of different opinion) if you believe a different course of action or priority needs championing? Can you give us an example of a time you acted courageously on an issue regardless of what others thought?
This has happened, and more than once and very basically the matter I am about to share was around the spending of funds to stage a major event. For various reasons, and after giving a great deal of thought and research with regard to this matter, I came to the conclusion that there were better and smarter alternatives to spend this section of our events budget. I still believe that we have used the spending power of this budget item in other event involvement with a much better outcome.

22. Do you want to be Deputy Mayor? If not why not? If so, why would you be good for this position?
I know that I have the experience, knowledge, passion and drive to be considered for this role. I am very aware that the northern residents are comfortable with the fact we have a southern councillor as our Mayor, and having a Deputy Mayor who is from the north is very a very balanced outcome. This has worked well for the last two terms.
Having said this, I am aware there would be other Councillors who would also put their hands up for this position. Obviously, the Mayor needs to be completely comfortable with this very important decision. There is also provision within the Local Government Act to change the role of Deputy Mayor during the term.

Section 3.
Questions from the audience (if we have one).

Facebook News


Today, the McConnel family celebrate 179-years of settlement and custodianship at Cressbrook.

Cressbrook is now run by fifth-generation descendant Christopher McConnel, with his wife Susan and their daughter Caitlin. Their home, the House at Cressbrook, is the oldest residence and third oldest building in Queensland, and they are the oldest identified family business in Queensland.

In the words of Madge McConnel (nee Kent of Jondaryan), wife of second-generation owner of Cressbrook, James Henry McConnel, “the story of Cressbrook would not be complete without reference to old friends, and employees whose memory we value, and whose descendants some of them are still with us or settled near us.”

Madge’s words continue to have relevance today, over 100-years on. Today, Christopher, Susan and Caitlin not only celebrate this historic milestone, but more importantly, it provides an opportunity for them to be grateful for, and to acknowledge the continued support of friends, family and members of the public who hold their story, and the history of agriculture and development in Australia, dear to their hearts.
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

So important to do this, and we can all buy and support LOCAL. ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook