Deputy Mayor Andrew Smith will make the COVID-19 response a priority if elected again.
Deputy Mayor Andrew Smith will make the COVID-19 response a priority if elected again.

Deputy mayor: New council will address COVID-19 first

THE first step to making the Western Downs a better region is being in the boardroom, according to Deputy Mayor Andrew Smith.

Cr Smith said the council has come a long way in the past four years, and he wanted to continue his involvement in furthering the region, especially in these trying times with the outbreak of COVID-19.

Cr Smith said the global pandemic would be a priority for the new council when it’s voted in on March 28, and the debt free stance is just one way that sets the Western Downs above the rest.

“Local government to this point has been relatively quiet … but as a council we have the capacity to support, in some way, our community, the same community that has helped us become a debt free council,” Cr Smith said.

“I’ve got no doubts that that will be one of the discussions very early on in the new council.”

It’s the council’s financial status that Mr Smith cites as the greatest achievement of the current council over the last four years.

Cr Smith also acknowledged the upcoming challenges the region is facing relating to jobs and finance.

Cr Smith said he believed we need to be prepared for the day when the energy sector no longer provides ample financial contribution to the region.

“We are very reliant on the energy sector … We’ve got to be prepared for the day when they may not be here, and they may not participate in our region,” he said.

“We’ve started that process by becoming debt free.

“The other issue is around jobs, what we can do as a council and how we can facilitate jobs growth in our region.”

Cr Smith said he will provide a positive influence in council, given his many years of experience and expertise in business and finance.

“I provide strength and honesty in the boardroom,” he said.

“I have a business background … I have a habit of making good decisions, and that is something you can’t underestimate in the boardroom.”