‘We must keep growing’: councillor to stand again
NOW the proud father of a young daughter, councillor Cam O’Neil acknowledges the unique position he is in to shape the region she’ll grow up in.
Having already served two terms with the Maranoa Regional Council, Cr O’Neil has announced his name will be on the ballot paper at the Local Government election in March.
“I have a lot of faith in our region, I think we have a lot to offer,” he said.
“And if I can do my little bit to ensure that that is a reality, then yes, I’ll put my hand up to serve our community for another four years.
“Our ability to enact small change is real, and if I can help people advance what they need where we all call home across our region, then that is a really rewarding aspect of being a councillor.”
Having served as Portfolio Chair for Facilities, Airports and Events, and Economic Development and Advocacy throughout the past four years, Cr O’Neil said he has brought a strategic perspective to the role.
“We’ve got some key initiatives that we’ve been exploring over the last little while that I’d like to see come to fruition, with the Country Universities Centre absolutely being one of those,” he said.
“The Maranoa Housing scheme will help people currently residents here become long term residents, and also people outside our region that want to call this place home.”
Having welcomed a daughter last year, Cr O’Neil wants to see the Maranoa continue to grow as she does.
“We need the foresight to look at what our Maranoa is in 20 years, and we will still be here then if we have positive growth,” he said.
“We need to ensure that we are steadily attracting people into our community, because they’ll invest, and that creates opportunities for our next generation.
“I’d love if, in 20 years from now, my daughter has finished school and decides to do tertiary education, that she has the choice to stay locally or go away for university.”
Cr O’Neil said if he was re-elected, his priority would continue to be driving the local economy.
“We have seen the uptake and softening of the oil and gas sector, we’ve still got a dominant ag sector, even though a lot of our residents are doing it tough,” he said.
“Our tourism as well, we have some unique assets out here with the saleyards of course, but we have a lot of other gems around the region I think council can support to get more people into our towns, because the more people we get in as visitors, the more stimulated our local economy is, which supports our local businesses, which in turn support the broader communities of the Maranoa.
“A lot of what we want we can’t do by ourself, so we must partner with other levels of government, and we can only do that if we back ourselves.”
Looking back, Cr O’Neil has been proud to see many projects he’s worked closely on become a reality.
“The diversification of our industry bases has been big for me. We have three large sectors; oil and gas, ag, and tourism,” he said.
“We’ve got to see those areas grow.”