Mayor Announcement

Keith Campbell will be re-nominating for Mayor of South Burnett at the 28th March 2020 Local Government election

When I nominated as Mayor four years ago, it was my intention to make myself available for two terms.  For this reason I will be re-nominating as Mayor for South Burnett Regional Council at the forthcoming March 2020 Elections.  Things are happening and when I look back on the past four years, I’m gratified that I’ve been able to preside over such significant development in the South Burnett. 

Because of the trust and support of constituents over many years I have been able to combine my passion for serving the South Burnett, with continuing to utilise my career achievements in managing and driving forward large organisations.

It would be a great honour to continue as Mayor of the South Burnett and further deliver on several key initiatives that will set this wonderful region up for the next 20 years. 

The achievements of the past four-year term has not come without pain and difficult decisions.

It is very rewarding as Mayor to see the extensive development that has taken place and what is in the pipeline for the future.  I personally read this as a vote of confidence by our own investors, and those from outside the South Burnett, that they believe it is a solid place for investment, and further, an endorsement of the direction that this Council has taken.

Many will recall that the highest complaints to Council four years ago were about roads. These days, that is no longer the case.

Notable progress under my leadership has seen Council delivering more efficiently and effectively major road improvements; improved  financial stability, cost savings and debt reduction;  progress with both state and federal governments with the water feasibility study moving towards recommendations for action and a number of new developments approved and so many others yet to be announced.

As I outlined in my 2016 campaign, my focus was going to be to stick to core local government responsibilities, why, because I am acutely aware that ratepayers and businesses pay from their hard- earned income whatever a Council commits to.

I want to continue delivering strong and disciplined management, provide leadership to the Council team and act always with integrity. It is from this strength that I see that we create a strong future for the next generation and beyond of South Burnett residents and investors.

For me, living within Council’s financial capability is a non-negotiable.  There are many projects and ideas that would be nice to have, but not able to be afforded.  As I have moved around the region over the past four years listening to residents, myself and your Councillors respect our constituents position that Council must focus on essentials that ratepayers can afford, and that which creates the environment in which investors and others can build on to ensure the South Burnett remains a wonderful place to live, invest and work in.

A complete review of my current four year term as Mayor is able to be viewed on my website: www.keithcampbell.com.au

My Next Term Top Priorities:

  1. Drive the outcomes of the Feasibility Study now underway, into securing water for agriculture, industry and urban growth.  I have long spoken about the critical role water security and availability plays, and what having access to different sources of water means for our long term viability. It will help us grow more of what we are already known to produce.  With access to regional, national and international ports to export our products, it is something I’m very passionate about building on in my second term. To this end I’m working closely with our neighbouring council, the North Burnett Reginal Council and our regional group of Councils, the Wide Bay Burnett Regional Organisation of Council’s.  All of us share the same passion, and together we are confident we can secure the support of government and others to deliver this essential ingredient for our future.
  • Economic Development must be driven to achieve preferred outcomes.  I will ensure that a new “Economic Development Plan” and “South Burnett Investment Ready” Prospectus is completed to complement our new Economic Strategy.  This is a deep dive into our strengths and assets, and in one place assemble all the positive reasons why the South Burnett is the right place to expand, grow and do business.
    It will include every aspect of town planning and all the other elements that support new developments for industry and residential proponents. It will be designed with purpose and be supported with policies to accommodate the vision of our region for the future.  Furthermore, it will identify the gaps in the issues of water for agricultural production, new industries and urban growth; it will take a look at ensuring that existing water supplies are sufficient to service existing towns and businesses; the current transport corridors are insufficient to accommodate vehicles with weigh loading limits that inhibit existing businesses let alone encourage new entrants; telecommunication improvement is a must; as is scheduling reserves of industrial land and housing lot developments.  One of the really significant features of the South Burnett is its location and proximity to Brisbane, Wellcamp, Toowoomba, Sunshine Coast and Fraser Coast which will be given particular highlight.
  • Kerbside Recycling and recycling more generally is inevitable. I will create an awareness and help build understanding that kerbside recycling is the legitimate next step for the Waste Services Department to implement for the South Burnett.  Governments of today are focused on a zero waste approach. 
  • I will ensure that the Roads Program is continually monitored to achieve promised outcomes and improvements to rural unpaved gravel roads.  I believe we have accumulated the truth about our roads.  We know what has to be done.  I agree with the approach implemented to FIX THE ROADS. I consider it a personal achievement to have taken some bold steps in order to rectify the roads problem.
  • Technology and Telecommunications are essential in order to attract new business and satisfy the needs of existing business.  I will continue to work diligently to ensure the removal of black spots from our Telecommunication networks.
  • No one is able to secure the best possible results without a strong team to work with.  I trust the judgement of ratepayers to select Councillor Candidates from each of the six (6) Divisions who are committed to a stronger South Burnett.  Together with them, the Chief Executive Officer and General Managers, I will lobby and advocate with State and Federal Politicians as well as work with our businesses and ratepayers in the region to invest in and support the South Burnett’s goals.  Together, we can make the difference that the South Burnett is ready and deserving for transformed economic growth.  
  • I will represent the views of our South Burnett residents in relation to the need for appropriate Medical Services.  I refer to primary and secondary health services together with allied health needs.  Our health is a number one priority.  It is essential to ensure that the our present residents, together with those who move to live in the South Burnett find the doctor they need to make them feel secure in that their health will be looked after.  I am aware that there are currently shortages of Doctors in some locations.  People want to ensure they have ‘their doctor’ to look after their health needs. The reputation of the South Burnett in terms of providing this essential is a matter I take very seriously.  Quality schooling, retail activity and leisure activities fall into a similar category in that it all adds to the quality of life we enjoy in the South Burnett.
  • I will provide strong, firm and positive leadership and work with a team who will connect with the direction and purpose of the previous four year term of Council.  I want to ensure that we as a team develop policy to achieve and deliver the best results for the benefit of the South Burnett’s continued growth and long term sustainability. 

Authorised by Keith Campbell, 47 Webster Street, KINGAROY

EXPERIENCE MATTERS:

I am very grateful that I was able to serve as a Councillor for 9 years, as well as Deputy Mayor for a period of 8 years before being elected as Mayor. That investment of time has served me well in having a strong understanding and skills required for the position Mayor as well as affording me the opportunity to build important relationships, especially those that position the South Burnett well with Government Officials and other leaders. I have learned the business of Local Government from the grassroots to the top, and am well qualified to further represent the interests of the entire South Burnett.

It takes time to absorb the needs of each individual community in the region and understand what is important to residents. I have been fortunate to meet so many people across the South Burnett and would hope to meet many more should I be successful at the March 2020 election.

The role of Mayor requires a deep understanding of the Local Government Act and Regulations, Policy and Procedures such as is acquired by first spending time as a divisional Councillor. While this is not mandatory if the Mayor or Councillors conduct has not served the values and priorities of constituents, I trust that the community has an appreciation of the work completed by this term of office.  Investors have demonstrated ongoing confidence; endorsement has been provided by our Government overseers – Queensland Treasury Corporation and Queensland Audit Office; and electors have respected the many capacities of Council’s operations that have improved, such that it will see the benefit of continuing with a Mayor that has demonstrated local government experience.

I’m confident you will choose well at the 2020 Local Government Elections– because ‘demonstrated experience matters’. The quality of the candidate you choose for each division also matters, just as much as choosing the best candidate for Mayor.

I remain totally committed to serving the South Burnett. I will continue to commit myself 100% to the responsibility and honour of the position of Mayor.

Mayor’s Message 7.2

16 July 2019

The question of “What will my rate bill be for the next year?” is a topic on the mind of many ratepayers at this time of the year..

There are many, of course, that accept the fact that if rates do not increase, then the Council and region is going backwards. From my observations, there is never a unified solution to reducing the need for rating income. In reality, the only way to reduce the general rate is to reduce services provided by Council. Although, with the requirements of the Department of Local Government and the need for a more complete and comprehensive Asset Register, this Council, as with many others, have found that their Asset Registers are not as up-to-date as they should be to comply with legislative requirements. As a result, a further hit that the 2019 /2020 Budget was challenged with was a full revaluation of Road Assets. This has added approximately $43M to the asset base values. The issue of concern is that depreciation has increased by around $3M annually. The systems and programs that Council now has at its finger-tip is better than in past years. There are assets that have never been listed on the asset register nor have they been included in the Insurance cover for example. The impact is that the 2019/20 budget is not capable of covering these additional costs without a substantial rate hike. That was unacceptable. As a result, the 2019/20 budget bottom line shows a substantial deficit. To add to the woes, the same exercise as done for the Roads Assets is to be undertaken for Buildings, Water and Wastewater during the next year. When the conversation swings to removing services, there are none of the communities within the South Burnett who are prepared to drop services they currently enjoy be it Libraries, Parks, Gardens, Swimming Pools and Halls. There are individual people who would be prepared for this type of change because they do not use the Library, Swimming Pool and Hall. An individual voice is a lonely voice unless the majority of the community can be convinced to drop services. The point to be made is that the net result for the 2019/20 Budget is that all operational costs are covered, with the exception of Depreciation. The impact of unfunded depreciation is that there will be a reduced amount of money available to be reinvested back into the suite of assets owned by Council. This is a matter to be given further consideration during the ensuring financial year. The forward 10 year forecast demonstrates that the following years are projected to produce a 2.5% rate increase. The bottom line whole of budget forecast (including Water, Waster Water and Waste Collection) is that Council predicts a swing towards an operational surplus in 2021/22. General Operations will achieve an independent surplus in 2026/27.

Mayor’s Message 7

5 July 2019

In my last Mayor’s Message, I spoke about the possible creation of additional rating categories.

Due to representations from a section of the rural rate base, I propose to encourage my fellow Councillors to take a close look at whether an even higher order-smoothing tool may be able to be introduced. This study would look at the purpose for which every parcel of land in each category is being used.

The outcome may be to introduce a greater number of categories. The feeling by some rural landholders whose rates were impacted by the roll in of the road levy and then again by the recent Valuer General’s change to unimproved capital values, consider that the average rural ratepayer is paying  more than their fair share of rates and have been doing so for many years. Their justification for this claim is that they have received very poor service particularly in the road department.

A simple example of new categories for rural land, for example, may be if a farm is also engaging in an intensive feedlot or piggery. Or indeed, an orchard or even a windfarm. The usage of roads and services under these circumstances could be greater than if the farm is being used for traditional farming purposes. Or for Urban residential land which houses strata title units or apartments that have multiple people living on the same allotment.

This argument may or may not be accepted by rank and file ratepayers, however, it has been brought to our attention for consideration. The catch is that if some ratepayers pay less, others will have to pay more. The task of looking at this possibility, as other Councils have done, requires more than a quick-fix solution. Ideas and solutions must be researched thoroughly together with ratepayer consultation. Whether anything changes remains to be determined. The determination will need to pass the test of being fair, open, honest and transparent.

Mayor’s Message 6.2

18 June 2019

In the 2018/2019 Budget, a number of ratepayers with sizeable Unimproved Capital Values incurred hefty rate increases due to the Road Levy being treated as an operational cost instead of a Levy.

This transaction was open, transparent and not difficult to explain. However, a number of ratepayers were unimpressed with increases of up to 20% in some cases. When the Road Levy was first introduced in 2013, a large section of the rate base with low property values incurred large percentage increases also. In fact, there were in excess of 3,300 ratepayers who incurred increases of 30% to 40%. Some were even higher than 40%. Again, this was not greeted favourably by property owners with low unimproved capital values. There are other scenarios that can be thrown in to make the debate sound worse than it really is. The reality is, some ratepayers in both situations paid a larger percentage increase than the average general rate increase. In both instances, the initial introduction of the Road Levy and the decision to regard the Road Levy as an operational cost, there were groups of people unhappy. I will defend the choice of Councillors at the time to make these decisions, because the resolves were made as part of a process to deliver an outcome – to FIX THE ROADS.

In the past 12 months, the additional money and changed operational activity has progressed road improvements into very positive territory. There are numerous messages of customer satisfaction and compliments regularly coming to the office. In both situations of Council’s decision, 2013 and 2018, there was no discrimination. Each rate category shares a certain percentage of the cost to run the business of Council. These decisions are calculated based on valuations. Rates are not calculated on the basis of how much money or how little money you earn or your capacity to pay. Rates are calculated based on unimproved capital values and how the Valuer General’s Department values property. Council has nothing to do with the Valuer General Department’s calculations.

I anticipate there will be anxiety among some ratepayers again when the result of the 2019/2020 budget is released. I would encourage ratepayers to acquire as much knowledge as possible to understand the quandary that Councillors are confronted with when these challenges impede the decisions that need to be made.

The final point is that Council represents the interests of the entire rate base of 17,500 ratepayers by being consistent and transparent. Further work is intended to look at the possible creation of additional rating categories to assist with smoothing tools.

Mayor’s Message 6

7 June 2019

I want to express the deepest of sympathy to the families and friends who have lost loved ones following the recent tragedies in our community

Their grief is very raw and our hearts go out to them. Coming to grips with the loss of loved ones is very real pain. For our community, we are also hurting in absorbing the news of so many lives lost in such a short time. This is a different type of pain. We need to acknowledge the impact that these tragedies have on those who are not directly involved, but are there to rescue and save lives. The memories of these incidents are not permanently removed from their minds.  The physical and mental health of these people also needs to be protected. We are proud though to acknowledge the professional men and women in Emergency Services, Police, Paramedics, Firies, SES, our Council staff and any others who have been involved as part of the first responders. On behalf of our community I want to express our genuine thank-you.

Often, among the first comments after a road crash is to challenge the condition of the road.  In recent crashes, were the roads responsible in any way?  Most of these accidents have happened on State controlled roads and not Council owned roads. All the roads named are in a sound trafficable state. Essentially, it is not roads in themselves that kill. As road users, we need to take responsibility and be alert to the Fatal Five road rules. Yes, it is true that some accidents are unavoidable and deaths do occur. However, most accidents happen due to ignoring the Fatal Five road rules or other external factors.  Police Snr. Sgt Dave Tierney, Officer in Charge at the Kingaroy Police Station recently said that during his 34 years as a police officer, it has amazed him how readily we as a society have come to accept the death of hundreds each year on our roads both locally and nationally. He said “I can tell you, in 34 years of attending crashes, most have been totally avoidable”.

This Council takes the issue of road safety very seriously. The point to encourage is to observe the Fatal Five. Ignoring road rules, road signage or other external factors leave us all taking a risk every time we sit behind the wheel of a vehicle.  South Burnett Regional Council will continue its progress of road works to ensure the comfort of road users. We can all play a part in preservation of life and avoid tragic accidents and crashes.

Mayor’s Message 5.2

21 May 2019

I want to continue marketing the strengths of the South Burnett to drive investment opportunities in our region.

We have had considerable activity in development opportunities in the South Burnett. With the ongoing construction of Australia’s largest wind farm south of Kumbia as well as numerous construction projects of varying sizes across the region and the possible construction of another wind farm in the not too distant future, the South Burnett is literally building its investment credentials.

Value of business approvals for the current financial year has already surpassed the total from 2017-18, with three months of statistics still to be included in the final figures. Already reaching $43,473,000 in value, this figure is greater than any year, as far back as 2011-12. Council also reported in March, that as at the end of December 2018, the region’s unemployment rate dropped to a five year low of 8.2%.

With positive economic indicators and positive economic activity, the forward outlook for investment is continually being supported. South Burnett Regional Council will be advertising Council owned industrial land in Cornish Street at Kingaroy for tender. This tender will seek to realise development of the industrial land to generate industry expansion and new jobs. At the same time, we are working with the Durong community to develop a fuel cell at Durong. Initially Council are making improvements to the hard stand area adjacent to the cattle yards and dip facility to enable further development of the underutilised land.

Council’s economic development team are also working with artisan and commercial food producers and manufacturers across the region. Business South Burnett has supported the establishment of a ‘Paddock to Plate’ network, developing new initiatives relevant to food production. Access to local produce is being spearheaded by passionate advocates and chefs throughout the region.

I am determined to ensure that the South Burnett continuously improves its investment potential by ensuring that any element needed for success is met with positive support and direction from the South Burnett Council.

Mayor’s Message 5

3 May 2019

It is very rewarding for my Councillors and myself to look back over the past three years of this four year Council term to assess the decisions made and changes implemented.

The old cliché that if you keep on doing the same thing, you’ll keep getting the same result is so true. Very little falls into place in textbook style without a will to make change and search for the facts and information on which basis to develop a plan specifically designed for forward movement.

Things can be a lot different if you want them to be and to do this requires a will and preparedness to change. We know this is achievable, we’ve done it with our road network. Other sections of our business are being looked at in the same way. Recently we’ve been involved in planning sessions to set the future of Economic Development. This is to ensure that as a region we not only say we are investment ready, but that we can state this fact confidently and with conviction.

What do we want the South Burnett to look like in 2030 and beyond? Whilst much of what is needed for new development in the region is here, we can and must do a complete evaluation and define the gaps that may act as limitations. We’ve already identified great need for water and that agriculture has been and will be the core of our strength going forward. But our visions will surpass a simplistic approach to growth.

There needs to be the realisation that our existence is not limited to the geographic borders of the South Burnett and that we have the capacity to develop our region as an area of Queensland/Australia capable of creating a more diverse economy than it is currently delivering. We will assemble a profile of the information needed to attract investment. We will identify the gaps and move to rectify them.

We will promote our region with strength and purpose. We will align our internal processes to deliver a customer centric focus that aids in not only the development of new business but supports existing business and industry. The shape and function of the South Burnett is on a journey to move our visions to a higher level of business performance. Our doors are open for business now but we need a wider set of doors to identify and correct the gaps in our diversified economy and focus of growth.