Richmond takes reins at WQLGA

Western Queensland Local Government Association met at Longreach


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Outgoing WQLGA chairman Ed Warren with incoming chairman John Wharton and, centre, engineer Graeme Wills, Barcaldine.

Outgoing WQLGA chairman Ed Warren with incoming chairman John Wharton and, centre, engineer Graeme Wills, Barcaldine.

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Richmond Shire Council mayor John Wharton is the incoming president of the Western Queensland Local Government Association.

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Richmond Shire Council mayor John Wharton is the incoming president of the Western Queensland Local Government Association, elected at the group's annual meeting in Longreach this week.

It means that next year's conference for 12 western Queensland local governments will take place in the north western town.

Cr Wharton took over from Longreach mayor, Ed Warren, who had served his one-year term at the head of the lobby group.

Senior vice-president for the coming year is Blackall-Tambo mayor Andrew Martin, and Gavin Baskett, Winton's mayor, is junior vice-president.

Titled Regional Diversification, the conference attracted 150 delegates and kept the needs of ratepayers in front of government policy makers, as well as exploring the ways councils can assist the growth of industries.

The latest plans for the future of the pastoral and agricultural colleges at Longreach and Emerald were shared, and the potential for standalone power systems were among the issues canvassed.

"There are many challenges and opportunities that we all share," Cr Warren said. "That's why our association, and this annual conference, is so important.

"Local governments these days deliver so much more than essential services. We're taking on more and more responsibility for things that have previously been done by someone else.

"Particularly here, in western Queensland, we're under pressure from above and below. Other levels of government can't do some of the things they once did, and our communities can't do what they used to either."

He said it was important for communities in western Queensland to diversify their economies.

"It's never been more important for our region to broaden its economic base.

"Each of our member councils is trying to raise the profile of their community, and that means they're building relationships across a diverse array of stakeholders and interests.

"So, in that way, I think local governments can be the conduit through which the world engages in our communities."

He said the response to natural disasters earlier this year was just one example of how local governments were already working together.

"You just have to look at the way our member councils have worked together this year, in response and recovery, to see the benefits of our association.

"If we can work together on that, imagine what is possible if we harness our shared networks and connect the dots to grow our regional economy."

Presenters included renowned economist Professor Ross Garnaut, and a dinner on the tarmac in front of the Qantas Founders Museum was another highlight.

The event was hailed as an economic boost for Longreach's accommodation houses, restaurants, and small businesses.

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