General News

8 February, 2023

Gilmore honoured for service

A LIFETIME of service to the Mareeba Shire and a dogged determination to accelerate and diversify the local economy has earned former Mayor Tom Gilmore a permanent place in the town’s history, with the aviation industrial precinct renamed after him at a ceremony last week.

Former Mayor Tom Gilmore was joined at the re-naming ceremony by (from left) Cr Mary Graham, Cr Mario Mlikota, Cr Locky Bensted, Cr Lenore Wyatt, former Deputy Mayor Alan Pedersen, Cr Danny Bird, Mayor Angela Toppin and Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch
Former Mayor Tom Gilmore was joined at the re-naming ceremony by (from left) Cr Mary Graham, Cr Mario Mlikota, Cr Locky Bensted, Cr Lenore Wyatt, former Deputy Mayor Alan Pedersen, Cr Danny Bird, Mayor Angela Toppin and Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch

The honour was bestowed upon Mr Gilmore for the critical role he played in convincing both the State and Federal Governments to contribute $23 million to the upgrade of the airport and the development of the associated industrial estate which were completed in 2019.

The economic potential of the airport was a major focus for Mr Gilmore during his two terms as Mayor from 2008-2012 and 2013-2020, and his success in securing the funding for the works was a hallmark of his time in office.

At Wednesday’s ceremony, Mareeba Mayor Angela Toppin heaped praise on her predecessor, recognising not only his “vision and drive” to get the funding for the airport and industrial precinct but also for his overall service to the shire, as a former mayor, State Minister and Member of Parliament.

“As Mayor, it is a great honour to unveil a plaque in honour of you Tom and I sincerely acknowledge your immense contribution to building the economic capacity and future of this region,” she said.

“Few people can look back on a life of service that accrues such achievement or has such impact and I most sincerely thank you for your service to the Mareeba Shire.”

Describing the project as a “catalytic investment in infrastructure which is recognised as one of the most significant events in the history of Far North Queensland regional aviation”, Mayor Toppin said the airport upgrade was delivered against a backdrop of constrained funding opportunities and had required “significant support, creativity and persistence from Mr Gilmore of which he has an abundance”.

“The upgrade has accelerated the economic diversification of Mareeba Shire and the broader region and it is recognised that growing aviation capacity will enhance Mareeba’s existing position as a regional supply and service hub for the mining, cattle, agricultural and tourism industries,” she said.

“It will also strengthen the role that the Mareeba shire plays as a regional industrial hub in northern Australia.”


A humble Mr Gilmore said he “deeply thanked” the council for the honour and tried to play down his role in making the project a reality.

“I have to tell you that I’m deeply impressed with the opportunity you have offered our family – it recognises my contribution but the truth of the matter is that I didn’t do it – I was just happened to lucky to be in the right place at the right time on half a dozen occasions,” he said.

He said there were a number of people involved in securing funds for the project, naming Federal Senator James McGrath and Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch who he described as a “vigorous proponent” of the airport and went into bat to get the money.

Among others he thanked were Mareeba Shire chief executive officer Peter Franks and infrastructure services director Glenda Kirk under whose watchful eye the establishment of the aviation industrial estate was completed.

“Peter has the most extraordinary capacity, along with his staff, to get grants when others could not,” Mr Gilmore said.

“But it also comes back to a council many councils ago who were offered this piece of land which was too knobby for agriculture and they bought it off the farmer thinking there might be an opportunity in the future. I thank them because they were wise.”


Mr Gilmore relayed how difficult it was to get the funding for the airport, while he was also trying to convince the State to help pay for the town’s badly needed new sewerage plant, and, at one stage, was told he couldn’t have both.

He said the Queensland Treasurer of the day advised the government could contribute $13 million to the airport upgrade but could not fund the sewerage project.

“But because of Peter and his staff scrounging around for grants, we ended up with up with an upgraded aerodrome and a new sewerage treatment plant as well,” he said.

The Tom Gilmore Aviation Industrial Precinct was opened in March 2019 and involved the construction of 52 fully-serviced lots suitable for aviation-related businesses.

At the time of its opening, Mr Gilmore said he anticipated the airport and industrial park would enable the employment of hundreds of people involved in aviation activities over the coming decade.

“From my perspective, this is one of the most important things I have seen in my time in local government,” he said.


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