Ticking it off the 'to-do list'
HER CONSIDERATIONS of the last 20 months are precise, ordered and laid out in a user-friendly way.
Yes, the energy and drive is there to be seen but it is Anne Nioa’s focus that leaves the lingering impression.
She started life as a regional councillor with a plan.
When Mayor Mick Kruger came to discuss her marketing and tourism portfolio, she had a list ready and waiting.
Regional branding, an entry statement for Hervey Bay, visitor information centres at Tiaro and Hervey Bay airport, establishing a relationship with Fraser Coast South Burnett Tourism and turning Our Maryborough magazine into Our Fraser Coast magazine were all targeted within the first 18 months of the new council.
All have come to fruition since April 2008, while an entrance statement at Tiaro – “the gateway to the Fraser Coast” – is subject to negotiations with landowners.
Her hopes of making a direct connection between Hervey Bay Airport and Melbourne ran into a little problem called the global economic downturn.
She gives herself a B-plus for her efforts to date.
“I believe my role is to facilitate projects between business and council,” the former Maryborough city councillor says.
“If someone comes to me with a good idea, we should be doing everything we can to make it as easy as possible for that business to thrive.”
Business is a buzzword for Ms Nioa. She is adamant that her business background has helped to underpin her work as a Fraser Coast councillor.
“We are running a very big business. You’ve got to make all decisions based on the best benefit for community.”
Similarly, a previous life of widespread travel has stretched the councillor’s aims beyond the norm.
“I want to bring some of the things that are available outside inside. I don’t care how big the challenge is.
“Half of my ideas are quite obscure because I pride myself on thinking outside the square. I’m not tunnel-visioned with how I think.”
That is not to say life as a Fraser Coast councillor has not been without its difficulties. Amalgamation has left its scars.
“It’s been very challenging at times.
“It was a huge impact on the staff. It was a huge impact on management. Waiting for that sort of change management to kick in, people were very apprehensive about what was going to happen. It was like they were in a vacuum.
“Honestly, I don’t think the State Government thought it out well enough.
“The local transition committee did a good job but it was the impact on individuals I found most challenging. Some staff weren’t happy, maybe they’re still not happy.”
She, however, is more than happy with her council lot. She cites a well-worn phrase about finding a job you love and never having to work a day in your life again.
“To keep renewed vigour you need to be having a good time while doing it,” she smiles.
But she is keeping her “options open” when asked if she wants to take the happiness beyond the 2012 local elections.
What she would like to see going forward is a real and telling interaction between the council and the region’s business sector.
She lists – she’s at it again – Hyne Timber, Downer EDi Rail and the Maryborough Sugar Factory as easy examples of the big business the region has had going for it.
“We (councillors) sit around the table and we form an opinion based on the facts in front of us but we never actually ask the people who are in business.
“We need to be more connected with the business leaders. Local government shouldn’t be a separate entity.
“If there was one thing I’d like to do before I leave public life, it would be to forge better relationships with business leaders and industry so that we’re all on the same page.”
She would also like the planning and development process to move faster.
“I understand why it doesn’t move quickly but that doesn’t really make me any happier. I think generally a community wants things to happen quickly as well.”
She points to frustrating State Government timeframes, the old Hervey Bay City Council planning scheme and independent referral agencies as other culpable factors – along with local government factors – behind the lack of efficiency in this sector.
“If I could make things go faster I would.
“If we could be more entrepreneurial as a unit, meaning all the councillors together, I’d like to see that.”