When Roman legions marched into battle they were organised into three lines. The first two lines were young or inexperienced, and the third contained veterans that would support their fellow troops if needed. The third rank was known as the "subsidiarii", the Latin word for support.
From this word comes the governing principle of subsidiarity, which means that locals should decide what happens in their communities, while still receiving support from higher levels of government.
Most mistakes in government decisions come about when the Roman veterans, the higher levels of government, think they can make all the decisions for the frontlines, the local people.
A case in point. Two weeks ago the Federal Labor Government decided to stop the construction of the Rockhampton Ring Road without consulting the local community. Land had already been bought and the road was due to start construction within months. People were shocked to find that the road was off for now by reading the news.
The Rockhampton Ring Road is the biggest road project in regional Queensland. It would remove 19 traffic lights from the Bruce Highway reducing freight costs and helping lower the price of goods that come from North Queensland like bananas, pineapple and beef. Locally, the road would make Rockhampton much safer, removing the 2000 large trucks that pass 4 schools every day.
Because of these clear benefits it had strong, bipartisan support. The tender process had started under the former Liberal-National Government and Anthony Albanese, before the election, had said the road was a "certainty".
Based on that support, and encouragement from the State government, many local businesses had spent thousands of dollars hiring new staff and buying new equipment. Labor's budget decision has pulled the rug from underneath these businesses and I am convinced that Labor made the decision without knowing what the local impact would be.
But the locals fought back with the ferocity of a Roman legionnaire. Within two weeks concerned locals had formed a new group called "Start Rockhampton Ring Road". They have made stickers, posters and t-shirts to advertise the campaign. They have a facebook page and a petition.
They organised a rally in Rockhampton that was attended by 500 people. At the end of the rally, a convoy left for Canberra to take their message to the halls of Parliament. I was crazy enough to join the over 2000 kilometre drive.
While I am now very tired, and I still have to drive back home yet, the journey has been an education. I have travelled on the inadequate roads that many country areas still suffer.
We met great people like Councillor Bede Burke who told us about the bumpy condition of the New England Highway. In Muswellbrook, Councillor Mark Bowditch told me of the need for the soon to be constructed Singleton bypass.
The local State MP, Trevor Watts, showed us what a major new road can mean for a country town like Toowoomba. Its ring road, or as they call it the second range crossing, has taken trucks out of its city and revitalised its urban areas.
But most of all I have learnt that it is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. In this case the literal squeaky wheels of a convoy have made the difference. By kicking up a fuss the convoy was able to meet Labor state and federal ministers.
I do appreciate the Labor Government listening to the genuine local concerns. I have some hope that common sense will prevail and this major, much needed nation building project will get the green light soon.
Yet it should not be this way. Not every country town can afford to have people travel thousands of kilometres just for common sense to prevail. Some on social media have ridiculed the small size of the convoy, but unlike most green activists, the people of Rockhampton actually have jobs and cannot just take a week off work to protest.
On the ancient battlefields, holding veterans in support only worked when there was good communication about what was going on in the frontlines. Governments have to work harder at listening to what are the concerns of people on the frontlines of our communities. Then we would not get silly decisions like we had on the Rockhampton Ring Road.
People should not have to come to the Parliament just to get a hearing. The Parliament should come to the people and listen. I hope the new Labor Federal Government has learnt a valuable lesson from its first budget.