Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey reflects on the highlights and challenges of 2019 and looks ahead to what's in store for 2020.
The end of a year and the beginning of a new one is an ideal time to reflect on what’s important to us and what we hope to achieve.
Our thoughts right now are with farmers suffering drought, people who have endured bushfires and the volunteers who help to keep us safe and protect our properties.
Like everyone else I’m very proud of our emergency services for their outstanding work in difficult circumstances and on behalf of the whole Bundaberg Region community, I extend sincere thanks to all of you and your families who support you while you’re out volunteering.
Despite the adversity we’ve experienced this year, we have much to be thankful for.
There were many highlights during the year and we have every reason to be optimistic about the future.
For me personally, public service is about making our community a better place.
The people who drive our region forward are certainly not politicians. They are the entrepreneurs, the business men and women with vision, the educators, carers, workers and our valuable volunteers.
I see the role of Council being to advocate, nurture, foster and encourage. We need to keep rates as low as possible to reduce the cost of living and attract investment.
For the past two years we’ve had the lowest rate rises in the 11-year history of Bundaberg Regional Council.
To encourage business growth we need to reduce red tape. That’s why we’ve streamlined our delegations this year to avoid delays and make it easier for people to deal with Council.
As a regional council, we’ve explored the potential for new industries to establish in the Bundaberg Region and in years to come I’m confident we’ll see growth in defence, tourism and agriculture.
Our biggest challenge however is to create opportunities for our young people. We want our best and brightest to stay in the Bundaberg Region and return home after travel and study to launch their careers and raise their families.
We need to actively develop and promote programs that create jobs, provide training and education.
Health services and education are essential to the fabric of our great community.
The Premier gave us an early Christmas present this year when she announced a new state-of-the-art hospital will be built in Bundaberg.
The benefits that will flow from this are enormous for the whole of the region.
The other catalyst for positive change is in learning and education. One of our highlights in 2020 will be CQUniversity creating a centre of excellence for agricultural technology.
Council is working closely with the university to provide a location and I expect to share positive news in the coming weeks.
In conclusion, I thank everyone for your support in 2019. We may not always agree, but we share a common goal to make the Bundaberg Region an even better place.
Despite the challenges we’ve experienced recently, let’s all remain positive, enthusiastic, energetic and commit to building Australia’s best regional community.
I wish everyone a safe, happy and prosperous New Year.