Local government has come a long way since 1864 when the government allowed municipalities (councils) to manage public infrastructure and utilities, as well as provide community facilities such as parks and gardens.
Just as our society is in a continual state of change, so is local government. The council of today is very different to the council of 1864 and even the council of 20 years ago.
We fix potholes, cut grass and run waste facilities but equally we must plan and deliver community facilities and infrastructure needed for not only today but also our future generations.
We need to recognise that the expectations of the community are changing and councils have a key role to play in meeting those changing expectations.
Residents expect the basics such as roads and rubbish and rightly so, but also expect to access opportunities other regional centres offer.
Today’s Local Government Act states that one of the roles of a councillor is to provide high quality leadership and one vital part of that leadership is having a vision for the future. This means making decisions which may not bring results today but will deliver benefits for residents in the future.
When the Civic Centre was opened in 1977, the Premier congratulated Council on its foresight, yet it was apparently described by some as “a luxury Gympie could not afford”. In the last 12 months it has hosted 355 events and functions.
The Pavilion had similar comments and yet has hosted 329 functions and events in the past 12 months. Both are great examples of visionary projects whose worth at the time was not fully appreciated.
We must work hard to get the basics right, but if that is all we do, then we have failed by ignoring our responsibility to future generations.