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

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

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.

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