IT was the very ordinary state of many of North West Queensland’s roads that encouraged Bob McDonald to seek election to the Cloncurry Shire Council in 1976.
The long serving councillor and cattle industry identity said it was either a case of enduring hundreds of miles of sub-standard tracks or seeking a voice on council and helping build the region.
“I took the view that there is little point in criticising the council if you are not willing to be involved,” he said.
Almost 40 years later Mr McDonald, 69, said he was well pleased with the progress, despite the challenges.
Cr McDonald was recognised in the Australia Day Awards for his services to Local Government and the cattle industry with a Order of Australia Medal.
He is Queensland’s longest serving currently elected member of local government, and one of few to have achieved that length of service.
“Cloncurry Shire has come a long way in 40 years. The marked improvement in roads, a development of a secure water supply for the town, and the development of other amenities in the town have all made Cloncurry a much better place to live. The community precinct and the health precinct are real benefits to everyone.”
Cr McDonald said while Cloncurry remained a rural shire, large scale mining helped the region really progress.
“Nothing brings big licks of capital into a small area like mining,” he said. “In the absence of funding programs, the challenge has always been to secure sufficient funding to provide the amenities.
“There is no better example than when the Ernest Henry mine piped water from Lake Julius and gave Cloncurry access to a permanent high quality water supply. Before that we were constantly faced with water shortages and the community had to constantly endure very tough water restrictions.
“We’re also seen the airport upgraded and now have two direct flights a week to Brisbane.”
He is still in the management of the family’s MDH beef business which runs 175,000 head of cattle across 11 cattle stations on 3.36 million hectares.
Cr McDonald, described himself as semi-retired and continues to live on Brightlands station with his wife Susan.
“A fellow said to me 40 years ago: ‘Just remember, cemeteries are full of people who thought they could not be done without’,” he quipped. “I’m happy to have played my part and let younger people be involved.”
Cr McDonald said he was “chuffed” to win the award.
“I’ve never sought any limelight,” he said.