MAYOR CANDIDATE: South Burnett businessman, Brett Otto will contest the mayoral position in the 2020 South Burnett Regional Council election. Photo: Contributed
MAYOR CANDIDATE: South Burnett businessman, Brett Otto will contest the mayoral position in the 2020 South Burnett Regional Council election. Photo: Contributed

Businessman believes it’s time for him to ‘step up’

LATER this month South Burnett residents will take to the polls to have their say on who they want to sit on the next council.

Ahead of the upcoming local government election on March 28, we spoke with mayoral candidate Brett Otto about why she is running for the top spot.

1. Why do you want to be a SBRC councillor?

The South Burnett region has given so much to my family, so I feel very indebted the wonderful people of our area.

Our business is running well and our children have all left home, so I feel strongly it's now time for me to step up and give something back to the region at a time when we need change and progress.

2. What relevant experience have you had that qualifies you to guide the council forward?

I have more than a decade in Qld government corporate services, giving me experience in governance, am qualified accountant with twenty years of experience in business and financial management, including dealing with complex tax and corporations law.

I also grew up in a council family with my father working in council for 51 years and have a strong history in community work across the region, I feel I know the people well.

3. If elected, what are your top three priorities?

1. Opening up council to greater community input and accountability at a time when people across our towns feel disconnected from their council;

2.Using my skills as an Accountant to get the budget in order, provide greater financial transparency and work towards providing some rates relief;

3. Re-assigning funding to the outdoor works programs such as roads and parks and extending essential services such as libraries, pools and dumps in our small towns.

4. In your opinion, in what areas is the South Burnett leading the way?

Our region provides a wonderful country lifestyle, with significant potential for agriculture, food processing industries and tourism.

We have a lot of dedicated, intelligent people providing a wealth of intellectual capital that as a council we need to support and work with to progress the region.

 

ORGANISERS: Brett Otto, Jane Erkens, and Gloria Kirkness.
ORGANISERS: Brett Otto, Jane Erkens, and Gloria Kirkness.

5. What challenges do you see impacting the region in the next four years?

Challenges facing our region include our council debt, accessing our share of government funding for roads and attracting industry to underpin population growth and water security.

6. What business, residential and investment interests do you have locally and beyond?

I have an accounting practice in Kingaroy with a wonderful team of capable staff, servicing local businesses and farmers.

My wife and I own a home in Kingaroy.

7. What's more important - supporting small businesses in the region, or attracting big businesses to the South Burnett?

Both are equally important, we need to make it attractive for large industries to invest in our region as this will provide the scale of employment required to grow our population, ultimately small business needs population growth across all of our towns if they are to survive and indeed prosper.

8. What is the first thing council should do to improve health services across the South Burnett?

We need to review the role of the private hospital in light of the expansion of beds and services at the Kingaroy Hospital. I believe we need a medical centre with more specialists to reduce the amount of travel for the elderly and families needing specialist consultations and day surgery.

We also need such a central medical centre to attract more GP's to our region.

I am also very keen to see more support provided for mental health services.

9. What community and volunteer activities have you engaged in prior to the current election campaign?

Former chairman of South Burnett Junior Rugby League, former chairman of the Murgon Sports Association, honorary CEO and board trustee of the Melanoma Awareness Foundation Qld.

I also walked from Gladstone to Kingaroy (500kms) for Lynda Geiger raising $30,000 for local melanoma programs and walked from Murgon to Kingaroy in 2019 to raise funds for Relay for Life.

 

Brett Otto on his long walk for cancer research in 2019. Photo: Matt Collins
Brett Otto on his long walk for cancer research in 2019. Photo: Matt Collins

10. As councillor/if elected, how do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process for our region?

My first priority will be opening up council to more community involvement in decisions, including being a mayor who spends much more time on the streets, listening and sharing information, I'm not afraid of criticism, as we won't always get it right.

In this vain, it is also my intention to hold four 'Mayoral Community Forums' every month, conducted across our towns in a public centre and will be open from 12pm to 8pm for your convenience.

I will be extending an invitation to fellow councillors to join me, as and when they can.

It is my intention to seek the support of council to form local town based working groups, resourced and supported by their divisional councillor and staff to create individual town development plans that suit your town and guide council decisions, yes we're one region but every town is unique and I believe that the parochial passion of townsfolk is a hidden gem.

One that can be used to build strong towns and then through a collection of strong towns we can build a diversified and resilient region.

Now this has been done successfully by other regional councils, amalgamation does not mean centralisation.

11.If you received a $1 million grant to use for the region any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

I would provide an additional rates concession to pensioners and farmers, many of whom are finding it hard to make ends meet.

12.Tell us something about yourself that others may be surprised to know about you.

I was one of only six students out of several thousand to graduate with a University Gold Medal in 1999.

 

NOTE: This is a paid piece of editorial content as part of the South Burnett Times' election campaign package.