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19 March, 2021

Mayor chats about one year on

NEARLY 12 months ago, Tablelands residents went to the polls for the 2020 Local Government Elections. and we have decided to sit down with TRC Mayor Rod Marti to speak about the last 12 months in office.

By Phil Brandel

 As a first-time mayor is the job what you expected it to be? 

The job is as I imaged, I knew it was going to be hard work and it is. I believe I’ve gone into this job for the right reasons and I also, believe we still have work to do but we are heading in the right direction. What are the right reasons? You’ve got to have some sort of belief in the community and the belief that the region is fantastic and that you would like the community to be able to maximise the wealth and assets that we have. You've also got to have the belief that you have some skill and the ability to help manage or navigate the path over the next four years. 

It's not good enough to say this is a fantastic place I should be mayor. Instead, it should be about how can we maximize the opportunities that we have and what are my skills and competencies to bring this organisation to a point where it is more accountable and responsive. We can’t solve every problem and do everything, but you’ve got to be responsive and empathetic to what it is that the community needs. 

What has been the biggest challenge to the TRC over the past 12 months? Our biggest challenge has been trying to realign the organisation, so that its more responsive and accountable. It all comes down to leadership, this council can do better, we have over 300 staff and they work really hard, but they need leadership. They need to know what the expectation of the council is and what the expectations of the community are. The challenge is trying to get the organization aligned with the community. 

You mentioned leadership, who are your mentors and leaders that you bounce off?

I have a group of people that I can go to, that I have become colligate with over the past 10 years. Most of them are on the Tablelands and if I have a bad day at the council, I may give one of them a call and see if they want a coffee and say well this is where I started on Monday and this is where I ended on Friday. I can call them and talk through stuff with them, you don’t always end where you planned to end up. There are probably half a dozen people that I can ring, depending on the situation depends on who I go to. 

 What’s on your wish list for the next two-three years? 

We have identified four key areas, this includes agribusiness and agricultural diversification, that’s value-adding to agriculture. We are dealing mainly with raw commodities on the Tablelands, but if you look at Mt Uncle or Gallo Dairy or Mungalli Dairy, they are a few examples of where people have value added to their business and they have been very successful in the market. We need to look at value adding agriculture on a larger scale. If we could get a food processor on the Tablelands to value add to our economy that would be a brilliant addition. 

We have also identified town revitalization, for Malanda, Ravenshoe and Atherton. Our tourism is bubbling along but COVID was a massive hit. We do have brilliant assets here on the Tablelands and we need to start telling our story a bit better and talking about our uniqueness to get more visitors here. 

The Fourth area which is probably the most important at the moment is we need to try and maximize our opportunities with health and medical services. We have some things underway with the hospital and the local Aboriginal medical service. I think there are more opportunities for health on the Tablelands. We have a few specialists who have expressed an interest in setting up shop on the Tablelands, so we need to maximize those opportunities. There is an economy around the health industry that could be very significant to our economy and all those things add to the quality of life. 

So, are you going to run again in the next election? 

I only came into this with a four-year plan because I knew how much it takes out of you. It’s not something that I'm thinking about at the moment. Right now I am focused on today and tomorrow, if you get too far ahead of yourself in local government and you start thinking about what will my platform be in 2023, then you’ve lost it. You’ve got to deal with what’s in front of you right now. 

Finally, what is one thing you’ve learnt in the past 12 months. 

 Whatever you do with your life, you really need to listen to your body. I was lucky that I went to a GP and that I got a diagnosis with my heart valve. If I didn’t go to the GP when I noticed things weren’t right it could have been much worse. Always be mindful of your health and wellbeing.

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