For returning mayor Mick Tucker, there are a lot of things in the Break O’Day region to be proud of.
Councillor Tucker was re-elected to the council as mayor in the October local government elections.
He said there were many projects on his bucket list for his next term as mayor, but also many achievements he was pleased to be involved with from his first term.
“One was the foresight to be able to acquire the land to help the new hospital site to be built,” he said.
“Another was the amount and planning and process that we’ve been through with our mountain bike tracks. That is something that is going to be a game changer for our community.
“Even though it’s only just recently in the previous term, the amount of work and networking that we’ve built up with the government and opposition which has now helped us with the marine infrastructure.
“Also all the money that’s been allocated by the state government to upgrade the Tasman Highway, our roads out to Binalong Bay.
“Those are just some of the things that are absolutely huge for our community and that I’m extremely proud of.”
Mr Tucker said he’s a “glass half-full” type of person, and didn’t believe there were any major issues facing the Break O’Day community.
“I don’t really see anything out there that scares me. I believe that impossible just takes a little longer,” he said.
However, he said one challenge was retaining the area’s youth.
“We’ve got a youth advisory group, and we’re working directly with our youth to understand their needs to create greater opportunity for them,” he said.
“That’s something that’s always a passion of mine – our youth. They are our future of tomorrow, and I think if there’s any impediment that’s in an area like Break O’Day that has a high demographic age group, it’s trying to retain our youth and create opportunities for them.
“We’ve also been working with the Skills Audit, so by being involved with them we can also look forward to implementing the actions from the skills audit which will hopefully create jobs and opportunities for our youth.”
Cr Tucker said healthcare was a concern in rural and regional areas right across the country.
“Healthcare is an issue right across Australia if you live in rural or regional areas,” he said. “What we need is permanent doctors."
Cr Tucker said there was a “high chance” of soon getting permanent doctors at the St Helens Ochre Health clinic.
“We are addressing it and working with the providers to help give stability to the people who want to come and become part of our community,” he said.
“Locums are great and we’ve never been without doctors, but people want their own doctor and the same person if they need to go.
“With the new hospital as well, that’s a bit of a sweetener. When doctors are coming and they know that they’re going to be working in a brand new facility, that is going to help compliment the good access to health care professionals.”
Cr Tucker had major goals for the next four years.
“One of them is the St Marys flood mitigation,” he said.
“We’ve done a lot of work on this, and we’re working extremely hard. We’re working on getting funding to implement the actions of the mitigation.”
He said another goal was to build a business case for the future to upgrade the St Helens airport and get the airport sealed.
“We’re having a lot of inquiries out of Melbourne to be able to fly direct into St Helens,” he said.
“They want to bring their people and their bikes.”
Cr Tucker said it would also be great for export.
“While we have an airport that they can land on, a dirt landing strip is not ideal,” he said.
“Looking to the future as we grow and we have more and more coming to our community, the need for an airport with a sealed runway – it’ll not be on our wish-list, it’ll be on our must-do list.
“That’s one thing that I’m really passionate about.”
He said he was also working with the state government in regard to free camping in the region.
“We’re tourism reliant. We cannot afford to see anybody try to stop the economic benefits in Break O’Day by even considering removing free camping,” he said.
He was also keen to put into action the region’s remaining township plans, and on securing funding for the Georges Bay walking tracks.
“We’re not going to leave a stone unturned. We’re looking everywhere we can to be able to make our community a better place to live,” he said.