Community has a renewed sense of pride: Leu
IN THE FINAL OF OUR WEEKLY SERIES, REPORTER SCOTT TIBBALLS SITS DOWN FOR A CHAT WITH MAYOR JULIA LEU
FROM a council officer to a chief executive in the former Douglas Shire to the sole representative of the region on the Cairns Regional Council to the Mayor of the new Douglas Shire, Julia Leu has played a huge role in creating the shire of today.
Since de-amalgamation with Cairns — which she played a large role in — the community has been revitalised.
“There is a renewed sense of pride in the community that we have earnt the right to be responsible for our destiny,” Cr Leu said.
“I think the achievements since 2014 and even more so in the last 12 months is testament to that.”
Besides being able to push forward huge projects like the Mossman Nursing Home or The Reef Marina, she said that independence from Cairns had given the shire the chance to fight its own battles.
“By getting back our council it has meant we can actually focus on the projects that are important for Douglas,” she said.
“It has also allowed us to be successful in gaining more than $60 million worth of external grants … we’re in a much better position to apply for grants in our own right, because the government nat- urally has to spread around funding.”
The $60 million helps, but she said that the key to the council’s success was financial sustainability, and with the shire on track to achieve surplus in the next few years, so far so good.
“We are focusing on ways of achieving value for money, with a lot of focus on procurement,” Cr Leu said.
“I know that staff work hard getting the best quotes possible and also getting the outcome that we want, and we have more than 300 local businesses on our local supplier list.”
As a key figure in the deamalgamation fight, Cr Leu fiercely defends the independence of the shire, recognising the opportunities — and the challenges of an entirely new local government.
“Most of the time a new regime will come into a council but you can only really build on what you’ve already got,” she said.
“Whereas being able to establish a new council from the ground up was something I think we were able to embrace very quickly and be successful at.
“I absolutely want to ensure that there is never any reason in the future for people to call for us to be amalgamated again.
“I’m really proud that our councillors and our CEO Linda (Cardew) and staff are really working hard to achieve our agreed plans and agenda.”
Douglas Shire Mayor Julia Leu believes de-amalgamation has revitalised the community.