Councillor profiles - Jane McNamara Mayor of Flinders Shire Council
Roads are important
Travelling around the 2000 km of roads that crisscross Flinders Shire to attend the many great events held in our area is one of the things I enjoy most being Mayor. Our main township, Hughenden, sitting at the crossroads of the Flinders Highway and the Kennedy Development Road, and the small townships of Stamford, Prairie and Torrens Creek are scattered across 42,000 km, making ours a very diverse and sparsely populated shire.
So you see roads are important to us!
For well over 20 years I have been lobbying for funding to seal the gravel sections of the Hann Highway. This road between Cairns and Hughenden was gazetted in 1927 (93 years ago). Its time has come. Thanks to the Federal Coalition Government’s commitment to Northern Australia, Flinders and our neighbour Etheridge Shire, have expended $40 million of Roads of Strategic Importance funding, and we are confident that the next $40 million will be soon forthcoming.
I joke that a reference to the Hann Highway will be on
A long history of service
I was declared an elected councillor to Flinders Shire Council on the 1 April 2016 (in the morning!!). My family had been involved in Local Government since 1952, my father, mother and husband all held the position of Shire Chairman, first female councillor and mayor respectively. Personally, I wanted to achieve some economic diversification projects and the sealing of the Hann Highway to secure a positive future for the shire and region. I felt that I had a lot to offer the shire and North West Queensland.
As well as being on Council, I am a grazier and partner in Abbotsford Pastoral Company with my husband, Brendan McNamara. Being over 60 I have had many roles that prepared me for my role as the Mayor. Grazier, carpenter’s apprentice, wife, mother of two grown daughters, home tutor and jack of all trades when my mother and I ran the property for six years on our own (I have a love of machinery and in particular big yellow vehicles that move dirt!!)
As a life-long volunteer I have been a passionate community member of many organisations, have coached gymnastics for 26 years and been race club secretary since 1977. This has given me a very broad understanding of people skills, governance and organisational responsibilities.
One of my favourite activities is meeting with and lobbying parliamentarians and government officials and staff. My mantra is to treat everyone with the same respect and understanding by which I would like to be treated, and the odd hug along the way goes a long way!!
Other interests include working at Abbotsford with our sheep and cattle, coaching gymnastics to help give life skills to future generations and being a committee member for Lions, Stamford Race Club Inc. and Hughenden Community Advisory Network for the MPHS and medical services of the Flinders Shire.
As time permits, I love to catch up on sleep and listen to audio books.
Our diversity of bioregions makes Flinders Shire a great area to visit for flora and fauna, photography and bird watching enthusiasts. We have Mitchell Grass Downs, Desert Uplands and Basalt Tablelands with extinct volcanos, basalt mountains and river systems. The Flinders River flows to the Gulf of Carpentaria, while the creeks around Torrens Creek and Prairie form the upper catchment area of the Lake Eyre Basin. The gem of our landscape is the magnificent Porcupine Gorge and White Mountains National Park.
Diversification of industries to arrest the decline in population is our biggest challenge. Our geographical location and the sourcing of revenue other than rates is an ongoing issue. Our shire is very reliant on road funding as this is our major source of income.
Projects in the pipeline
Council inherited a couple of projects that were in their infancy, which we have nurtured and developed to a stage where they are ready to start planning, development and construction.
The 15 Mile Intensive Irrigation Project will produce table grapes, organic vegetables and other tree crops. This is an innovative, state of the art project, incorporating smart farming and water techniques. It has been under development since 2011 with established grape producers.
Flinders Shire has worked together with CNVMIG on the Hughenden Meatworks and Feedlot, a project that has been under development for about five years. It has now advanced to the planning and development stage and should be in production by 2021-2022.
In 2017 we were successful in obtaining Building Better Regions funding for the Hughenden Recreation Lake, a 23ha man-made lake for all manner of water sports and recreation. It has been completed and we are waiting for the wet season, as I write this, so that it will fill with water and we will be able to enjoy it to its potential.
Seeing them bear fruit
As Mayor I enjoy being able to achieve small and big things for our constituents and large projects for our shire and North West Queensland. Being able to help others achieve their goals and working with our wonderful staff is rewarding. On the other hand, I don’t like feeling that I may have let a chance go by, either personally or for the Shire.
My aspirations for the future include seeing our projects come to fruition and the benefits they bring to our economy. Council’s goal has been to double our population from 1500 to 3000 in five years.
Whether I am in Council or not I will continue to lobby and promote our region and maybe I might become a tourism tour operator sometime in the future to enjoy our shire’s attractions more often.