Ratepayer the priority: former mayor to run again
RUNNING for mayor again wasn’t a thought that crossed Rob Loughnan’s mind much since he left Maranoa Regional Council in 2016.
That all changed a few weeks ago, and with a fear of an impending rates freeze from incumbent mayor Tyson Golder being falsely applied, he has once again asked for Maranoa ratepayers to back him at the ballot box.
The grazier, who has more than 22 years of local government experience, served as mayor of Maranoa Regional Council for two terms between 2008-2016 before he lost to Cr Golder.
Since then, he’s been focussed on keeping his beef cattle property afloat and struggling through the worst drought in living memory.
When the rain came in January, Mr Loughnan was prompted to start doing some digging.
“I seriously hadn’t considered looking at this role until very recently, and I apologise to the people I told a month ago that I definitely wasn’t running,” he said.
“But circumstances have changed with the weather, and I think I still have a bit to offer to the community.
“I have leadership skills that are going to be really needed in this term.”
Mr Loughnan said reading through mayor Tyson Golder’s 2019 proposed budget and hearing certain campaign promises had prompted him to officially nominate himself out of concern for the ratepayer.
“My concern is for the ratepayers, particularly for the rural residents who are coming out of the worst drought in history,” he said.
“This is going to be a very delicate balancing act,” he said.
“When I read the mayor’s budget a few weeks ago, I was taken aback by what I read.
“I believe it’s completely at odds with what the mayor and his team are now promising.
“In the current election situation, he’s promising rates freezes which everyone thinks is probably a good, kind financial measure but it’s really not.”
Mr Loughnan said what he had read in the budget was a massive spending budget, supported by a 14 per cent rates rise above the board.
“Now, that is very different to what is being promised in this campaign, which is a rates freeze...The real danger is who takes up the slack if they can’t, or won’t pay it?
“That comes back to the rural sector, they can least afford it.”
Mr Loughnan said his promise was simple: to spend wisely.
“I don’t want to come in and promise unaffordable expenditure items,” he said.
“The best way to control rates is to control spending. My ambition is to keep rates down.
“I think the time is right to attempt a comeback, I think we need competition and some degree of certainty.”
Mr Loughnan said another priority of his - should he be successful in the election - was to help move council out of what is currently perceived as being full of friction and disunity.
“I think that has been a negative culture, and I want to overcome that,” he said.
“Councillors will always have difference of opinions, but it’s about working together for the residents and ratepayers.
“It’s clear there are only three current councillors who have renominated, and I personally advocate for the return of all of them. We need their experience, and I would dearly love to be there with them.”