3 times the charm for Gympie’s hero MP
Gympie MP and Opposition spokesman on Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing, Tony Perrett, is not unaccustomed nor averse to a good old political stoush.
He did his time in the trenches at Kilkivan and then Gympie Regional Council before winning the state Gympie seat in 2015.
He has wallowed in the doldrums of Opposition ever since, but it's a rare occasion to see him without a smile and a genuine willingness to have a chat. He's a cattleman who moved to the Gympie region from Kingaroy 24 years ago, when he and his family purchased the property 'Tye,' at the headwaters of Boonara Creek.
Tony Perrett is a likeable chap - and very tenacious apparently.
Gympie Regional Council CEO Shane Gray in addressing Gympie business community earlier this month said he'd recently embarked on the huge task of locating and registering all of the council's assets.
"If I'd know Mr Perrett was so good at finding things, I'd have enlisted his help straight away," Mr Gray told the crowd to much laughter.
Tony is well supported by his wife Michelle. They have two daughters and will this year become grandparents for the first time.
As a couple they are a powerful local force, a fact illustrated by their determination last month when 58-year-old Robert Weber went missing for 18 days on their vast property north of Kilkivan.
He'd been last seen leaving the Kilkivan pub with his dog Nessie in a white Ford on January 6, heading for Dulula near Rockhampton. He never got there.
A missing person alert was raised more than a week later, and the search began.
On January 17, workers mustering in a remote paddock on the Perrett's 15,000 (6070ha) property spotted Mr Weber's car wedged in some rocks. It had been 11 days since he left the pub.
This triggered a full-scale land and air search, which the Perretts were a part of, but to no avail.
With hopes of finding Mr Weber dwindling, emergency services eventually called off the search, but the Perretts refused to give up.
"We just kept going in the hope that we'd find him, searching all the water points on the property, and of course we did find him," Tony said.
Mr Weber was found 3km from his bogged car. He'd survived on dam water and mushrooms.
"(That) morning my wife and I set off early to search a paddock which was adjacent to the paddock where his car was found. We'd searched all the water points in there and went to a couple of spots we hadn't been to previously," Tony said.
"We then we drove out of that particular paddock into the next one through a small set of stock yards. We went over this small crest and as we drove towards the dam, there we saw what turned out to be Robert frantically waving at us."
Transporting Mr Weber 8km back to their home on the property, Tony and Michelle supplied him with food and fresh water as they waited for the ambulance to arrive.
"We went down and sat down with him and I said 'geez Robert, you've been the hardest man to find this last week. We've been looking everywhere for you but thank goodness we found you'," Tony said.
"It was just an emotional period. We hadn't given up hope, we were still looking, but every day that went by was just less likely that we were going to be able to find him in a good state."
The community knew Mr Weber's dog was still missing but hopes ha all but vanished of finding Nessie.
Seven days later, though, on the last night in January, Nessie simply wandered into the Perrett's home.
"When you think of the amount of time she was missing, it's extraordinary. She dropped quite a bit of body weight, but she was still lively. There were no physical injuries," said Tony.
It was a wonder Nessie hadn't encountered potential predators on her travels.
"It's a good outcome. Given the length of time I wasn't holding out a lot of hope, we were obviously so happy to find Robert..." he said.
"That dog could have been taken by anything, we have wedge-tailed eagles up here. A domestic dog not used to something preying on it could have been vulnerable, but she was fine."
Tony dismisses all this as "being in the right place at the right time", and maybe he was. Maybe he always is.