Toowoomba Regional Councillors are the city’s local government policy makers.
They gather information by consulting with the community, they undertake research and then make decisions on the ultimate strategic direction of the city. It is their job, as policy makers to ensure their resolved and preferred course is maintained and realigned as necessary. And if approved policy is not implemented, it is their job to make the bureaucracy accountable.
This week, it will be two years since 32 community members put themselves forward to effectively provide the oversight and monitoring of the delivery of services and opportunity in the Toowoomba Regional Council local government area.
The Community Spoke
In the end, the community spoke, with Paul Antonio elected as Mayor and 10 Councillors chosen, led by Cr Rebecca von Hoff with 6.09% of the vote.
With only two years until the next election, the Toowoomba Chamber will be looking to champion the change considered necessary in Toowoomba Regional Council to help our businesses thrive.
I anticipate that candidates are in early preparation for their campaigns for both mayor and councillors. So, if you run into or hear of any potential candidates make sure you ask them about what they propose to achieve for business. Ask them a few key questions, like:
Ask them a few key questions:
- What is your vision for the business community?
- How are you going to create policy that helps small businesses to grow and employ more local people?
- How are you going to create policy that simplifies administration and reduces red tape?
- How are you going to increase the opportunities for business in the region?
For sitting Councillors, who are proposing to stand again, ask them to outline what they have achieved for the business community.
What business requires is leadership that inspires a great vision and confidence in and for Toowoomba. A series of moon-shot goals.
Interestingly, as outlined in the Chronicle on Saturday, a potential Toowoomba Regional Council leadership spill is in play. This follows the motion moved by Cr. T.P. McMahon, seconded by Cr. M. O’Hara Sullivan in April 2020 that Council Policy be that the appointment of deputy mayor be revised at regular intervals, (every two (2) years). This resolution is now proposed to be acted upon.
In April 2020, I wrote a column about, my understanding of the tradition at Toowoomba Regional Council, that the deputy mayor-elect, was awarded to that elected official that received the most votes. That person was Councillor Rebecca Von Hoff. After Councillors deliberated, Cr Geoff MacDonald was appointed as Deputy Mayor.
How our city is led plays a significant role in attracting business, investment, and growth.
As we observe the machinations of the revote, we need to ask ourselves has the leadership team of Paul and Geoff inspired you to open a business? Have they shown decisiveness and been creative as businesses navigated the last two years of uncertainty? Have they communicated what they are doing for small business openly and transparently? Have they supported small business, which employs an estimated 50% of Toowoomba residents? Then, we need to ask ourselves, will a new leadership team of Paul and Rebecca, lead us more effectively?
Obviously, there is more at play, than the battle for deputy mayor. In my view, politically, this decision becomes critical should the mayor decide to retire within the last 12 months of his term, in essence, bequeathing his role to a deputy mayor in the led up to Toowoomba Decides 2024. Should that occur, I believe, it provides the deputy mayor a very real advantage, should he or she decide to run for mayor in 2024.
Regardless, we need the decision made quickly and definitively. What we know from the research is that organisations and public political leadership struggles, creates business uncertainty and confusion and is a deterrent to investment opportunity.
Let us all hope, the leadership struggles get resolved swiftly, and we can go back to implementing a BIG vision for business.
One based on building, supporting and delivering legacy projects like Quarry Gardens, rebooting the national heritage icon, Jondaryan Woolshed, embracing fast rail, connecting our townships with Toowoomba, moving people between the new hospital to USQ with light rail, taking people from Wellcamp Airport to the world, revitalising the CBD, reducing administrative red-tape, constructing our new stadium and convention centre, or dealing with the housing crisis now the assertions by Toowoomba Regional Council about 27 years supply of residential land and the availability of 4300 lots have been debunked, etcetera, etcetera.