February 5, 2018
A crowd of almost 250 people turned out at Goomeri Cemetery on Monday morning to bid farewell to one of the South Burnett’s longest-serving former Mayors.
Guests came from as far afield as Gladstone, Goondiwindi and Toowoomba to acknowledge the interment of Alec McIntosh’s ashes in the South Burnett town he loved best.
Alec McIntosh was elected as a councillor to the former Kilkivan Shire Council in 1961 and became that Shire’s Chairman (then Mayor) from 1970 until he retired in 1994.
He lived and farmed in the Goomeri district, and also built and ran the Goomeri Motel with his wife Betty.
He was instrumental in forming the now-defunct South Burnett Local Government Association in conjunction with fellow mayors Bill Roberts (Murgon), Percy Iszlaub (Wondai), Warren Truss (Kingaroy) and Reg McCallum (Nanango) so the five former Shires could work together to agitate for greater funding for the region.
He later went on to serve on the Queensland Local Government Grants Commission, which distributes annual funding grants to councils around the State, and was vice-president of the Queensland Local Government Association.
Mr McIntosh died on January 18 and his funeral was held at the Boyne Tannum Memorial Parklands Crematorium Chapel on January 31.
At Monday’s service, former Deputy Prime Minister and Member for Wide Bay Warren Truss read this eulogy to Mr McIntosh:
While Alec’s latter years were spent in Cooroy and Gladstone, his life and heart were in Goomeri and the Kilkivan Shire.
So it is appropriate that his earthly ashes are being laid to rest in the community he loved and worked so hard to build.
As we have already heard, Alec left school to work on the family farm before moving to Brisbane where he met and married Betty.
Later he returned to the farm, which he worked in partnership with his brother Donald.
He acquired a fuel distributorship and mail run which meant he quickly got to know everyone in the district, which was a great asset in the years ahead.
In 1980, he retired from the farm and with Betty built the Goomeri Motel which they operated for the next 10 years.
Alec and Betty were always actively involved in community affairs and they were involved with almost every organisation and event big or small, especially in Goomeri.
My friendship with Alec dates back to our times together in local government.
Alec was elected to the Kilkivan Shire Council in 1961 and became its Chairman in 1970.
He became the Shire’s longest serving Chairman, holding the office for 24 years.
In those days there were five South Burnett shires.
When I became Chairman of the Kingaroy Shire, I was 20 years younger than the other Shire leaders.
Reg McCallum, Percy Iszlaub, Bill Roberts and Alec McIntosh were already legends in their own communities (they are all now in their 90s and Percy and Bill are in poor health).
We were all very competitive when fighting for our local communities, but enjoyed strong friendships based on our mutual desire to ensure the South Burnett obtained its fair share of the revenue we needed and the services we required.
We met together regularly and took it in turns to be Chairman of the South Burnett Local Government Association.
Alec and Reg McCallum had a particular bond, probably because they were the best drinkers.
But we all knew that we needed to work together if we were to achieve worthwhile things for our communities.
Alec’s role in local government went to the highest level when he was elected to the State Executive of the Local Government Association and later Vice President of the Local Government Association.
He was also appointed to the Queensland Local Government Grants Commission.
We all knew then we had to be good to Alec because he played a key role in deciding what level of Commonwealth local government funding would be allocated to our Shires.
Some wags thought Kilkivan did quite well but the formulae used by the Commission to distribute funding was so complicated and incomprehensible that no one could ever know what they should expect.
Kilkivan was a large Shire with many kilometres of country roads and a relatively small population and revenue base. Nonetheless, whenever the grants were announced there was plenty of complaining.
Alec’s job on the Commission was no fun – everyone thought they should get more.
Ironically, when Alec and Betty sold the Goomeri Motel, it was to Charlie Palmer who was the long-term Chairman of the Local Government Grants Commission.
Alec worked hard for the Kilkivan Shire and was proud of the many miles of bitumen provided for local roads during his time as a Councillor.
He once said he never received a complaint about potholes in the bitumen when he was first elected to the council “because there were no bitumen roads”.
He strongly believed in the vital role that local government could deliver in providing leadership for small local communities, and vigorously opposed proposals to amalgamate councils.
When a neighbouring council suggested that Kilkivan Shire should be split and merged with its neighbours he demanded that “they keep their cotton picking fingers off Kilkivan”.
He would’ve been as disappointed as anyone when in March 2008 the State Government went on a merger binge which saw the end of Kilkivan Shire as he had known it.
In 1994 he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his services to local government.
Alec also served on many community boards including the Wide Bay Burnett Electricity Board and the South Burnett Hospital Board.
He was a man of the utmost decency – a caring friend to all who knew him, respected for everything he did for his community and especially for local government.
He had responsibility for big issues but cared also about the needs of ordinary people in his community.
He volunteered to look after the public toilets in Goomeri and was always proud that they were the best and cleanest in country Queensland. They were appreciated by the travelling public and there never seemed to be enough parking nearby.
I will always hold Alec McIntosh in the highest regard. He and Betty were guests at Lyn and my wedding along with the other South Burnett Shire Chairmen. We enjoyed some great times together and were all good mates.
I have on my website my favourite picture with Alec taken at Goomeri’s Centenary of Settlement celebrations in 2011, where naturally he was a Guest of Honour.
Alec was a local champion who gave a lifetime of service to his local community.
He was a great friend and mentor, always good for a yarn and someone we all knew we could count on when it mattered.
Lyn and I extend our sympathy to Alec’s family and all those who share the sadness of his passing, and pray that God will grant you strength and encouragement in your bereavement in the knowledge that his was a long life well lived.