Response to John Brent’s Mayoral Candidacy Announcement

Response to John Brent’s Mayoral Candidacy Announcement

Approved Media Release on behalf of Greg Christensen (candidate and current Mayor)

Response to Mr. Brent’s Negative Announcement

As a passionate advocate of democracy, I welcome the announcement by Mr Brent of his intent to be a candidate for the mayoral election in March.

However, it is disappointing that, as a contender for the most Senior Local Government role (that of Mayor), he has based his campaign announcement on attacking the staff of Council and ignoring the exceptional performance our local businesses have been delivering over the last 4 years.

1. Attack on the character and capability of Council Officers.

Mr Brent is correct there have indeed been some staff changes in Council – some have retired, others have moved for career or family reasons. However, to suggest that these changes are somehow a disaster is offensive and demeaning to a group of people who are diligently performing their tasks on behalf of the community and are unable to speak out to defend themselves. From Librarians, to Crews maintaining roads, parks and other assets, as well as the many other service teams, these are good people who are members of our community and do not deserve such treatment. 

At the last Council election, there was a clear desire for change. I have committed to that call and followed through on leading the focus to deliver a Stronger Future for the region. Council is indeed building a different team through its refresh and refocus efforts. The strength of the possibilities we have as a region has seen us able to attract people into a number of senior roles with much better capability to address the challenges of the next decade. This is not to denigrate those who have left – they played important roles in the immediate post amalgamation era, but the future requires different skills and a different focus.

As we see regularly in the sporting world and business, any high performing team needs to go through periods of change to meet the challenges in front of them. The potential of our region demands this proactive focus for our communities to enjoy their best future. 

Is this working?- absolutely the answer is yes. We are achieving efficiencies in program delivery that already delivered $1/2 million of savings this year. We are also seeing better customer and solution focus in the way services are delivered. I regularly receive spontaneous feedback from individuals and business leaders expressing their surprise and delight at how supportive and solution focused their experience of Council has been recently, compared to earlier times.

There are of course those who will feel differently, sometimes Council still needs to deliver unpleasant news and given our resource limitations it will never be possible to keep everyone happy.

2. Attack on the economic growth and investment attraction of this term of Council.

Mr Brent tries to assert that there has been no economic growth or investment attraction since he lost the last election. Only Rip van Winkle, and it seems Mr Brent, could have missed the strong growth across the region since 2016. I am disappointed for so many of our local businesses, old and new, that my competitor is unable to recognise or acknowledge the excellent growth in investment already executed or approved during this term of Council. 

A few that come to mind include: Summerland Camel Farm (from a standing start to major internationally recognised brand inside 4 years), Churches of Christ Care (it is exciting to see their superb new development rising from the ground in Boonah), the recently approved Nielsen’s Silverdale quarry, AJ Bush’s Bio Energy expansions, Councils $10.7m activation of Beaudesert (Enterprise Drive) Business Park. 

I am also excited by the prospect of the revolutionary 40-hectare Kalfresh Agricultural   Precinct near Kalbar, currently under assessment by the State, which will bring a further strong platform for jobs and economic growth.

Independent data has confirmed Scenic Rim has achieved a record high level of Gross Regional Product ($1.9B) and a record 6.5% (900) jobs growth in one year during this term.  I and the current Council have held a strong focus on ensuring we continue to work with existing businesses as well as new possibilities to build and grow the economy and employment. To verify how much growth has been occurring and remind yourself about some of these exciting local stories, I encourage readers to visit the InvestScenicRim online site and enjoy.

Our region has faced major challenges over the last year with emerging drought impacts, the bushfires and their ongoing recovery needs. I am confident, the team we now have at Council has the right capability to provide a strong support and solution focus to guide our communities through to a strong future. However, this will take real leadership at the Council table. Leadership that understands how to deal with the current uncertainty, to lead through urgent change, to maintain focus, energy and enthusiasm for the BIG aspirations of the Community Plan that our region can achieve.  As proven over this term of Council, I have the skills and expertise to provide this leadership, to focus on the decade ahead and beyond, and not be held captive to the last decade. Our Scenic Rim Community Plan demands leadership that will courageously face into the future and ensure the sustainable prosperous future we all desire.