BIG PLANS: Former Emerald Shire and Central Highlands councillor Kerry Hayes has entered the mayoral race for the 2016 elections.
BIG PLANS: Former Emerald Shire and Central Highlands councillor Kerry Hayes has entered the mayoral race for the 2016 elections. Contributed

Hayes stands up for CHRC top spot

FORMER Central Highlands councillor and businessman Kerry Hayes has some unfinished business he would like to care of.

Mr Hayes, the present managing director of Emerald Land and Cattle, has thrown his hat in the ring for mayor ahead of the local government elections in March.

Mr Hayes served three terms with the Emerald Shire Council between 1997 and 2004, before serving another four-year term in 2008 on the newly formed Central Highland Regional Council.

"You could say that all of my marbles are invested here," he said.

"My great-grandfather came here in 1877, I grew up here and with my wife, we've raised our family here.

"The region has been good to me and I've always felt this yearning, while I've got the energy and skills, to give back."

If elected, Mr Hayes carries a list of ideas in his back pocket, that he has wanted to follow through since failing to win re-election in 2012.

"There are some liveability issues that are as pertinent today as they were four years ago," he said.

"We need to look at how we can make things work for our smaller communities and for young families.

"We have a great community and we need to look at the things that young families enjoy, like parks and the aesthetics of the place.

"During the upturn there were a lot of infrastructure projects undertaken, now it's a case of focussing on what's needed and making sure those things have an endurance level when we go through a slowdown."

Mr Hayes said if given the chance, his business skills would serve the community well.

"We are all having to learn to live with less and council is not exempt. Like any business, we will have to trim where we can and maintain good service with our customers. Efficiency will be critical," he said.

Some key issues Mr Hayes highlighted as high on his agenda included counteracting the slowdown in the resources sector and encouraging new business while strengthening existing business.

"There are and will be major effects in our smaller communities if traditional businesses scale back or close, and it will be critical that council has strategies to create support and planning to regenerate other opportunities in these locations."

Coming down the other side of the upturn in the resources sector, Mr Hayes said it was important the council recognised and supported the "diverse" range of industries in the region.

"The word diversity is one of those bubble words, but we're really going to have to cash ours in.

"Our community is realising that there is a lot more that happens than just the resources sector.

"We've got a lot of agricultural activity that has always been there - expansion of tree and nut cropping will continue building our region as a key producer of food and provide export earnings.

"The Central Highlands is one of the largest livestock markets in Queensland and we need to enhance opportunities for producers by upgrading services."


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