Retiring Central Highlands Mayor Peter Maguire would be the first to admit that in 2007 the idea of amalgamating councils wasn’t a popular one. But eight years on, as he reflects on how the region has grown, he concedes that maybe in some areas it’s better off for the union.
‘Recently a question was raised that had me think about whether having a bigger council equalled bigger benefits for the community, so I asked for a few records on pavement sealing—basically putting bitumen on roads.
‘As we stand here today the Central Highlands Regional Council has spent more than $78 million on road sealing since March 2008. That equates 295.42 km as at today and 324.62 km by 30 June 2016.
‘There might have been a perception back then that the smaller communities would miss out, but clearly that hasn’t been the case. The majority of the rural roads expenditure has gone onto roads in the former Duaringa and Bauhinia areas of the region.
‘This magnitude of work and spend, I believe, comes from the strength and capability resulting from a larger region. The council now has more resource efficiencies, plant and labour in particular, and more capacity to attract funding assistance from government. I am the first to also acknowledge the financial contributions from successive federal and state governments towards roads.
‘And it’s not only road sealing. The benefits extend to the bigger infrastructure builds like the Blackwater Water Treatment plant upgrades, the East Nogoa Water Treatment Plant, the Emerald Aquatic Centre and the new Blackwater Aquatic Centre currently under construction.
‘Eight years on there’s still the odd grumble about amalgamation, but these figures indicate to me that progress in the rural roads area at least has been achieved.’