Former Mareeba Shire Mayor Tom Gilmore has been recognised for his service to local government and to the community of Mareeba by being awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the recent Queens Birthday honours list.
In 1986 Mr Gilmore was elected as the National Party member for Tablelands in the Queensland Legislative Assembly. In 1992 he moved to the front bench as Shadow Minister for Minerals and Energy, a portfolio he held until the Coalition took government in 1996, whereupon he became the Minister.
He was the Mayor of the Tablelands Council from 2008 to 2012 and became Mayor of the Mareeba Shire when it de-amalgamated in 2013, he retired earlier his year and says that he is still busy even in retirement.
“It’s a major change of lifestyle so you’ve got to work your way through it and keep yourself busy,” he said
Mr Gilmore says winning the OAM was an extraordinary and humbling experience.
“You spend your life doing these things and you surround yourself with amazing people who do great stuff,” he said
“This award belongs to my family, my wife and children and to the extraordinary people I’ve worked with in recognition of what we have achieved in our community.
“Obviously somebody thought well of me.”
Some people have mentioned to Mr Gilmore that he has left a lasting legacy upon the local Mareeba community.
“If there’s a legacy to be left in local government it would be that I continually pursued an expansion of the economic base of my community. You can’t have an economy that is a one trick pony. Every time you get an opportunity to have to take it.” he said
“You have to make sure there are options for local businesses to thrive and it’s important to have opportunities for our young people because if there’s no opportunity there’s no future.”
In over 30 years of politics, Mr Gilmore says there was one job he was disappointed not to have finished.
“In my maiden speech to parliament, I spoke about the need to seal the Chillagoe Road. It’s a disappointment to me that I won’t be there when it finally happens,” he said
“For over 30 years I’ve argued the case for that road to be fixed. Its slowly getting underway and other people have taken that up. But on the other hand, there are things that I got done that balanced that out.”
There are both big and small projects that Mr Gilmore says he was happy to have been involved with including the sugar mill on the Tablelands and the establishment of the prison near Walkamin.
“I lost a lot of friends over that prison, but over time people now understand that the prison supplies around 400 jobs directly.” He said
‘It’s important to expand industry in the local area and the prison has to be served with food and trades and the people who work at the prison take-home wages.
“They build houses, they raise their families and they become part of the community.
“Sometimes I just had to grit my teeth and say I know a project like this is right, regardless of the hurt that may come from it and I have to deal with that.
Mr Gilmore also says that small things could also make a big difference “There were times that I helped individuals with the smallest little things and that a made a huge difference to their lives. Its been a lot of fun.”
So what’s in the immediate future for the ex-mayor?
“I’m getting used to the idea that I don’t get up and go to work at 7.30 am each day and I’m comfortable with that.’ Mr Gilmore said
“I chose not to proceed as I didn’t want to be the mayor when I was 78 as I thought another four years was much too long.
“So now I’m adapting to my choices and getting on with my life.”