I only have one recommendation for the Rockhampton mayoral election this Saturday. Number as many boxes as you can!
Don’t waste your vote by just voting 1 for your preferred candidate. With 17 candidates in the field, unless your preferred candidate finishes in the top 2, then if you just vote 1, you
won’t get a vote between the final two candidates.
The more boxes you number, the more chance you have that someone you voted for makes it to the final two.
Unlike state and federal elections, this weekend’s mayoral race is optional preferential voting. As my fellow contributor, Robert Schwarten, wrote last week, with 17 candidates a mayor could be elected with just 10 per cent of the vote.
However, if enough people do take the option and preference, that would reduce the risk of someone being elected who does not have significant support among the electorate. I congratulate all who have put their hand up to be mayor. Running for political office is an admirable, often thankless task. The challenge has been greater for all of them at this election as the campaign has coincided with the Christmas and New Year period, when most Australians switch off from politics. That has restricted a proper debate among the candidates for their competing visions for the region.
That is a shame because there is a high calibre of candidates in the running and all seem to have a genuine interest in making our region a better place to live and work.
There are four sitting councillors in the running with experience in local government. There are many others with business backgrounds who have put forward strong plans to attract further investment to our region and to keep rates down.
Whoever is elected mayor will be taking over at an exciting time for Rockhampton and Central Queensland. We have an opportunity to emerge as a pre-eminent centre for farming, mining, manufacturing, education and tourism jobs for our region.
Rookwood Weir is finally happening and it is the first step to make Central Queensland the nation’s next major food bowl. The Fitzroy region is the second largest water catchment in eastern Australia and there are more water capture opportunities with the proposed Connors Rivers Dam and Nathan Dams in the future. The Adani project is going gangbusters with flights leaving everyday with workers from Rockhampton. The next step is to make Rockhampton a hub for future coal projects in the Galilee Basin.
The new manufacturing school at CQUniversity puts Rockhampton on the map as all governments seek to make more in Australia again following the coronavirus pandemic. CQUniversity has had a tough year with border restrictions impacting their student numbers but Nick Klomp and his team have kept the university healthy and will strongly bounce back once things return to normal.
And our tourism industry is going well as more Australians holiday at home. The trick will be to continue to update our attractions so we keep them coming back.
The election was thrust upon Rockhampton but that makes it no less an important choice. Make sure you make your vote count by numbering as many boxes as you can.