General News

14 March, 2024

2024 local government elections

THE LAST WORD Mareeba Shire Councillor Candidates

2024 local government elections - feature photo


I believe I have the skills, experience and knowledge to represent the people of this shire.

One of the things that I am very proud of is that I was involved with a group of businessmen that fought de-amalgamation. Without de-amalgamation, we wouldn’t have a Mareeba Shire.

We had calculated the cost of “unscrambling the egg” to be $4 million – Queensland Treasury said $12m, Cairns Post said $20m, in the end, it was $4m. Today, Mareeba Shire is one of only 29 councils in the State to be financially sustainable and that’s because we de-amalgamated.

Prior to de-amalgamation, the admin staff and outdoor staff was at a ratio at 3:1, so one person inside at a computer and three outside actually doing the work. That worked well, but I’m now advised that the ratio is one in the office and one outside.

We need more people on the ground doing the work, maintaining our roads and parks and gardens, and less people sending emails to each other.

People who know me know that I am a man with great tenacity and determination and that I am willing to speak up, raise new ideas and see them through to fruition. I will give the same commitment to serving our community as I have shown throughout my life. 



I am Shaquille Chong, and I am running for Councillor for the Mareeba Shire Council. I was born and raised in Mareeba, and I am a Muluridji traditional owner through my Madigan family. I was admitted as a Solicitor in June 2023 in Cairns, and I also have a background as a Criminologist.

If elected as Councillor, I will advocate for State level intervention on youth crime. I would like to see programs such as The Jonathan Thurston Academy in the Shire which will provide positive avenues for youth development in employment and training, education, and well-being to help shape the future of young people.

I will advocate for more improved infrastructure for Mareeba Hospital. We need more beds in our wards, an upgrade to our emergency ward, including the maternity unit. I would also like to see more specialists in our hospital.

More housing developments for economic growth, including emergency accommodation for homelessness and victims of domestic violence and children.

The shire needs improved road maintenance and transport. I would like to see more roads sealed, including a by-pass to the Kuranda Range. I would also advocate for more entertainment opportunities for all ages across our shire.



As we approach the Local Government elections on Saturday, it has been an interesting couple of weeks, with 11 candidates putting their hand up for six positions around the table that will shape the future of Mareeba Shire over the next four years.

Over the last eight years, we have been successful in remaining financially stable, while 48 out of 77 other councils in Queensland are not. I am passionate about Mareeba Shire and all the communities that make up this diverse Shire, from Kuranda to Chillagoe, Irvinebank to Julatten and all the towns in between.

We need experience and stability to keep Mareeba Shire moving forward. I will keep pursuing to improve our road network throughout the shire. I will be accessible to all and listen to everyone’s concerns.

And I will continue to advocate strongly to State and Federal Government Ministers to improve services in Mareeba Shire including a better road network, health services, crime reform and housing affordability. Remember, you must number six squares to make your vote count, include me in your six.



The application of sound business principles and a commitment to best servicing Mareeba Shire residents and their needs have been the critical components of getting the de-amalgamated Mareeba Shire Council back on its feet and financially sustainable.

It’s been a very challenging task to establish a sound financial base from which to operate and at the same time respond to the direct and indirect need of ratepayers and residents.

My long-term hands-on business experience, with both a national retailer and developing and operating a small business in more recent years, have equipped me well to rise above the challenges in a positive and productive manner.

Mareeba Shire now stands on the cusp of an exciting future with improvements to shire services and infrastructure, in addition to tapping into future regional expansion and potential. There’s a number of exciting private enterprise and investment projects and diverse industry investing in our future. While some might want change, it also is critical to have councillors who are experienced in working at the coalface of local government.

There’s more to be done and that experience really counts. I will remain accessible, reliable and accountable and seek your vote to keep Mareeba Shire moving ahead.


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