President’s comment –Mayor Mark Jamieson President Local Government Association of Queensland
With the COVID-19 vaccine rollout now underway across the country, communities and community leaders alike could be forgiven for allowing themselves to feel a sense of optimism, albeit cautiously, that we may be getting closer to that light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.
Personally, I am truly hopeful this nationwide, and indeed global, vaccination program will help return us to the so-called ‘new normal’ and lead to the progressive reopening of our international borders. So amid all the uncertainty and weariness of the last 12 months, I remain positive and it appears I may not be alone, with recent polls indicating that while still anxious about their health and their jobs, most Australians think 2021 will be a better year than 2020.
Last year was a tough grind for everyone, including local government, as we faced up to not only a global pandemic but devastating bushfires and persistent drought. COVID-19 overtook our lives in a way few of us have ever experienced before – and I am sure, hope never to experience again. Along with our dedicated health workers and police, those Australians who followed the public health directives, made sacrifices and looked out for each other are the heroes.
Whether big or small, coastal or rural and remote, no council in Queensland was immune from the impacts of these challenges. Local leadership came to the fore and despite the huge economic and social challenges of the pandemic restrictions, I am proud to say that every one of our 77 councils showed how critical they are in helping their communities respond to and recover from whatever is thrown our way.
With our resilience fortified by optimism, we should now be thinking about the possibilities available in what has evolved into a unique era of opportunity. I believe every challenge should be looked at from the perspective of the learning it affords.
While there have been many challenges from the pandemic, one resounding positive to emerge is that it has made us a more thoughtful and considerate community. Consequently, many people have shifted to a focus on local first – whether it be local suppliers, local producers or local recreational and holiday experiences. I am confident this will generate a greater emphasis on supporting local communities – which is exactly what Queensland councils have been
advocating – and doing – for well over a century.
There are opportunities also for business and industry to grasp. Any entrepreneur who can capitalise on new ideas to connect people and businesses in meaningful ways will be on a winner. We have all felt the loss of connectivity with others during the pandemic and most of us have had to master video platforms just to talk to our colleagues. Anyone who can come up with a better virtual connectivity experience will undoubtedly be in high demand.
As we move steadily through 2021, Queensland’s councils will continue to remain
steadfast and draw on their collective strength to ensure our communities are safe, strong, diverse, and welcoming places to live and raise a family.