February 13, 2020
A fourth candidate has joined South Burnett Regional Council’s race for mayor … Durong resident Toni Ralph.
Toni and her husband Tony are primary producers but many South Burnett residents would remember them from the 17 years they ran the Shoppingworld Butchery in Kingaroy.
Mrs Ralph announced her intention to run for Mayor at the March council elections on Thursday.
She’ll be competing against sitting mayor Keith Campbell plus other already-announced candidates, Brett Otto and Abigail Andersson.
“I am nominating because I feel I offer our region, and Council boardroom, an injection of fresh ideas and renewed energy,” Mrs Ralph said.
“I have lived, worked and played in the region for over 20 years, and have built a rapport with many businesses, town, and country residents.
“This has given me an insight and understanding of the issues that make our region the best place to be.”
Mrs Ralph said her goal if elected was to put “into action” plans that have been talked about for years, ie. water, roads, rubbish, tourism and economic diversity.
She also wants to work with Council to develop major strategies to:
“I have a tertiary education in Business; I have been studying Rural and Regional economics for 12 months; I have a work history that includes working for and with the Queensland Government; owning and operating small businesses that employed people; and now my husband and I have gone from part-time to full-time primary producers,” she said.
“Council continually acknowledges that water security is key to our regional growth. So far all we’ve seen is study after study about how water accessibility can be improved.
“We should already be harvesting the headwaters from the Bunyas, the Stuart and the Boyne rivers, by having weirs in place.
“Now we have no choice but to wait until the current feasibility study is complete. I will not support another study. I will action the results of this one.
“I will also ensure that the current road maintenance schedule is not undermined by some other budgetary constraint. Keeping our regions roads serviceable shows a commitment to our primary producers and ‘out of town’ ratepayers. It is the one way that expresses that we value them.
“Our region has a state-of-the-art recycling centre on its doorstep at Cherbourg and still we are not a part of a circular recycling program. We need to become much more recycle savvy.
“Kerbside recycling is a start, with the benefits being that it will eventually lead to rates reductions.
“Tourism is becoming a major part of our region. The Rail Trail, despite its rocky start, has started to gain momentum.
“Many of our towns have established themselves as ‘destination stops’ and are reaping benefits. The Visit South Burnett tourism organisation hopes to attract visitors to stops away from the trail. We need more dump-points, camping places, and RV parking places to build on this momentum.
“The South Burnett is part of the next largest region outside south-east Queensland.
“This puts us in the best position possible to take advantage of the massive amounts of both State and Federal Government funding set aside to assist regional towns expand, but still maintain our lifestyle, affordability and liveability.
“As Mayor, I will ensure that I work with council to create a sales package for the region that showcases our unique position of being far enough away from the rat-race to offer affordability and country lifestyle, yet close enough to be able to access services and entertainment that may not be available here just yet.
“I will support the establishment of an over 50s village. We want our seniors to stay close to where they have lived, worked and made their lifelong friendships. Their families need to know that their ageing family members will be safe and cared for, and not too far away when there are special family events.
“An over 50s village has already been proposed, so I will be working with the Council to assist the developers to get this off the ground.
“Our primary producers and large and small businesses need to be supported in their efforts to control feral pests. If Biosecurity Australia misses the beat just once, and products with African Swine Fever make it into Australia, the South Burnett’s largest industry will be closed down.
“Council should prioritise the implementation of a program that addresses this issue. I will work closely with landholders and Swickers to ensure that Council gives its full support to a more rigorous feral animal control program.
“Now that there are no more agricultural colleges in Queensland, the South Burnett is in a solid position to take advantage. We have a TAFE college desperately in need of an influx of students.
“Other regions have paired their TAFE and high schools together, so should we. There is also an opportunity to pair our TAFE college with some form of aviation training, given that there is an ‘A Class’ airport at its doorstep.
“The South Burnett Region desperately needs road train accessibility. Council’s infrastructure department is ideally the body that would be able to initiate the strategic, preliminary and detailed business case that proves to the State and Federal governments that they need to restructure the main roads into this region.
“The region is serviced by many specialists, but it appears patients are not informed enough about them. Our health services are many and varied and cover all aspects of care, but the doctors and specialists don’t seem to have any type of co-ordinated referral system which includes the Community Hospital, home care agencies, pharmacies, South Burnett X-ray, and Graham House to name a few. Council has access to a database which may assist these agencies to co-ordinate.
“As a region we are able to create economic diversity.
“We have the essentials, ‘affordability and liveability’, to support workers and their families.
“As Mayor I will capitalise on the way in which our region has been built on resilience and ‘just get on with it’ business and community people.
“Together we can build a region that is economically sound, where families maintain their sense of community, and where they feel safe.”