Councillor profiles - Belinda Murphy Mayor of McKinlay Shire

Article image - Councillor profiles - Belinda Murphy Mayor of McKinlay Shire

What’s the best thing about my Shire? That’s easy… the people.
We have a wonderful, innovative and very resilient community. Of course the landscape that surrounds us and the lifestyle we live is very special.

Prior to becoming Mayor in 2012 and before having our first child, I was Director of Corporate and Community Services. I feel privileged to have worked in both areas of local government, operational and council. I enjoy working on the vision and policy setting for our shire and the region.

I represent the North West District on the Local Government Association of Queensland Policy Executive. Additionally I am the Chair of the Outback Queensland Tourism Authority
I love spending time with my husband and two children Madeleine 8 and Liam 4. We love our horses and campdrafting. That is something I enjoy when we can make time to get to the events. I like to keep fit and every April I take part in a triathlon, which is part of a significant local event known as the Julia Creek Dirt and Dust.

Local governments like McKinlay deliver so much more than traditional rubbish, roads and sewage/water.

I am proud that we have a very innovative council willing to look at things in many different ways. Recently we collaborated with the State Government, our regional economic body MITEZ and power provider Ergon to complete an assessment of power usage on cattle properties and purchase a pod to trial an off grid solution. The trial has twelve months to run and aims to provide information around potential alternatives to poles and wires out to our properties.

Closing the distance
Another innovative project is our first Innovation Hub. Providing high speed internet, computers, printers etc., the hub will have everything required to complete external study, collaborate with other startups and entrepreneurs, and do business. It will offer full video conferencing capabilities and new technology such AR,VR and robotics.

Over the last seven years we have succeeded in bucking the trend in other communities of businesses closing and people leaving as a result of long term drought. While we have not lost any, new businesses have opened in our main town, Julia Creek. Our childcare and kindergarten is at capacity and for the first time in many years, and our younger generations are remaining on family farms and taking over the business.

A major achievement for the Shire has been the establishment of a Middle School. For many years our Julia Creek state school was prep to year seven. In 2015, when Queensland moved year seven to Middle School it caused a lot of angst in our community. The thought of sending children off to boarding school a year earlier caused concern. A solution was found and with the community driving it and the Education Minister supporting it, finally a Middle School, years 7-10, was established through Mt Isa School of Distance Education.
This model has allowed over 10 students to remain at the school and their families to remain in the shire. Additionally many of the student’s siblings at the primary school would also have been lost if those families had moved away.

Whilst ensuring continued services such as road maintenance and landfill is our core business, extra efforts that make a long term difference like our success with the Middle School, are things that I am very proud of.

Exciting future
I enjoy being able to work with many different stakeholders from industry, community and other levels of government. It is extremely interesting and has allowed me to be part of implementing long term change.

The hardest part is not being able to please everyone, being ok with that, and moving on. In a small community there are many views and personalities and it can be difficult to manage expectations and understandings of exactly what can and cannot be done by local government.

McKinlay Shire has some great projects to finalise over the next twelve months. Along with infrastructure projects are many planning projects for the future of the shire and the potential of a new $400 million mine on our doorstep means there is a lot of collaborative discussion ahead.

A new Community Plan and new whole of childcare services business case to complete in the coming year will, I hope, set up the future direction for the Shire.