Who moved up this year's Power 30 list?
Who moved up this year's Power 30 list? Kritchanut

POWER 30 2019: Who moved up Gympie's list?

THIS year's Power 30 has seven members whose level of influence grew over the past year - including one who jumped a staggering 22 spots.

So who are these movers and shakers?

#27 Colleen Miller (up from #30 in 2018)

Colleen Miller.
Colleen Miller. Troy Jegers

COLLEEN Miller is not only the face of the Gympie and Districts Netball Club, she has been an powerful force in growing the sport in this region.

Mrs Miller has come in at #27 on the 2019 list of Gympie's most influential people.

Since taking up netball six years ago, Mrs Miller has been leading the charge as president for two years and has seen local numbers grow to 368 members today.

There has been a jump back into representative netball after a period of Gympie not fielding teams, which has raised the profile of the club in the wider region.

RELATED: 2019 POWER 30: Gympie region's most influential people #1-30

Reaching out to neighbouring netball associations like Maryborough and Noosa has led to Gympie competing in representative carnivals and developing the local umpire program.

Mrs Miller was the driving force behind bringing the former Sunshine Coast Lightning and the New Zealand Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua to Gympie for A Night with Noeline in May.

The event was instigated following a simple conversation Mrs Miller had with the successful coach where she mentioned how A Night With Noeline had a nice ring to it.

Mrs Taurua shared her experiences and there was a Q and A about what made her tick.

Mrs Miller has overseen the strengthening of Gympie's relationship with the Sunshine Coast Lightning. The Lightning's Samsung Ambassador Program was introduced in 2017, with regional clubs allocated one Lightning player as their ambassador, which has been a great inspiration for young Gympie players coming through.

Gympie is allocated six hours with their ambassador and this year it was Maddy McAuliffe who visited twice.

At the club's grand final day, Lightning player Karla Pretorius joined McAuliffe at the junior and representative awards where they did a meet and greet and presented awards to players.

The two visits enabled Gympie players and the general public to catch up with McAuliffe to get to know her a little more.

This has been invaluable for the growth and continued passion for the game.

It is because of this success and drive that Mrs Miller has been included in the list of Gympie's Power 30.

#12 Marlene Owen (up from #17 in 2018)

Marlene Owen.
Marlene Owen. Arthur Gorrie

MARLENE Owen jokes that she was born and bred in Gympie and is still saving up for the ticket out.

But the truth is more a story of community commitment from a woman who has dedicated much of what would otherwise have been her own time to serving the people of Gympie region.

And that means everybody, not just the high profile people and causes she has been involved in over the years.

"I love our community,” she said .

"It gives me great joy to work with the community and some of the best people you could meet.

"My biggest charitable interest is my involvement in Supporting Chemotherapy in Cooloola, along with drought aid to the Longreach area and, lately, to the south as well, wherever the seemingly endless drought has hit farmers across the inland.

"We bring the kids from up north to Rainbow Beach so they can have a day at the beach.

RELATED: Gympie's most influential reveals their vision for region

"Some of them have never been to the beach before. They've never seen that much water. Some of them have probably never seen rain.

"I feed the homeless at night,” she said.

"I cook meals we can distribute wherever homeless people are forced to live.

"And I am involved at the moment in lots of meetings with other groups to tie together help for homeless people, especially raising money to organise a permanent emergency accommodation facility, to get them off the streets.

"So I'm having lots of meetings with different organisations. First we had to ascertain, with evidenc, that thre was a homelessness problem in Gympie. Well we know there is now.

"Sadly, it's going to be a long slow process, but we'll get there.

"But SCIS is my main priority.

"Oh, yes,” she added, "We (her and husband Gordon) also run a business.”

#11 Scott Kovacevic (up from #19 in 2018)

Scott Kovacevic.
Scott Kovacevic. Donna Jones

THE Gympie Times' political specialist has been compared to a "terrier” for his dogged pursuit of truth and accountability, but its an attitude that pays off.

In his time with the paper, his work has included dragging the report which sparked the council's controversial water service overhaul from behind its wall of secrecy and laying bare the finer details of the council's blow out-plagued Rattler return.

A darkly satirical sense of humour has become a trademark of his opinion pieces, as determination is to his research and reporting.

Mr Kovacevic honed his research skills through six years of university study, spread across three different degrees.

RELATED: 12 faces missing from this year's POWER 30 list

He is now the proud owner of three pieces of paper - a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, First Class Honours in Theatre, specifically comedy, and a Masters in Journalism and Communication - which are all now in a cupboard collecting dust at the same rate his HELP debt escalates.

Born in Armidale, New South Wales, his background is a mongrel of country and city lifestyle, having also lived in Hervey Bay, Taree and on the Gold Coast. And it is the same story for his career experience.

This spans industries including fast food, retail, stand-up comedy, six years as an entertainer and suit character performer at Dreamworld and two years managing Griffith University's theatre at its Gold Coast campus.

As a piece of advice for politicians and other community leaders, he says it's easier to convince people of your argument if you have one and if you communicate it to people, talking, consulting, keeping people informed - general accountability.

"The nature of people is you can probably convince them if your argument is strong. If people feel they are part of the process, they are more likely to accept a decision.”

He comes in at #11 on this year's Power 30 list, moving up eight spots.

#8 Andrew Corbet (up from #24 in 2018)

Andrew Corbet.
Andrew Corbet. Craig Warhurst

AS THE huge success of Gympie-based transport giant Corbet's Group continues to grow, so does the influence of the company's general manager Andrew "Aussie” Corbet.

The forward-thinking leader has jumped from 24th position last year into Gympie's Power 30 Top 10 this year - a reflection of his principal role in driving the expansion and diversification of the company that is a key player in the economic future of the region.

Originally a sawmill and engineering business, the family-owned enterprise has evolved over 40 years into one of the largest Australian multi-industry companies; now operating in transport, land clearing, water processing, storage, equipment hire and landscape supplies.

Last year a new quarry in the Mary Valley that was unsuccessfully appealed in the Planning and Environment Court was added to Corbet's Group developments which span into western Queensland.

RELATED: POWER 30 2019: Meet the 12 new faces on this year's list

It created 10-12 site jobs and up to 30 daily subcontracting positions - taking the company's workforce to just under 400 employees including FIFO workers to major mining sites. A concrete plant opening within a month on the same site will further increase staff numbers.

In transport, the A-double road train fleet was expanded to four in the past year after Mr Corbet fought state and federal government to get the trucks on the road last June - a move that is leading the way in haulage capability in Queensland.

Corbet's Group runs the only A-double road trains in Queensland north of Gympie, Mr Corbet said. The rest of their 120-truck fleet runs from Melbourne to north Queensland.

Mr Corbet, who has skilfully diversified the business at any viable opportunity, credits the company's success to his loyal staff.

"We wouldn't have got anywhere unless we had good people. That's really the key.”

Corbet's Group sponsorship continues to boost Gympie rugby league and motor racing.

#7 Tony Goodman (up from #29 in 2018)

Tony Goodman.
Tony Goodman. Donna Jones

TONY Goodman is a familiar face on the Power 30, last year ranking at number 29.

This year, his first as president of the Gympie Chamber of Commerce, sees him climbing the ranks to the number 7 spot.

He said he would like to see the role of the Chamber to become more of an advocacy for Gympie business.

"You can get online and find tutorials on how to build your business but Gympie businesses don't really have a voice. The Chamber could become that, to ensure that the interests of the business community are promoted,” he said.

There are three main goals of the Chamber, Tony revealed, all designed to "create jobs, jobs and more jobs,” he said.

The first is to entice larger industry to the area. The second is to develop an independent review into creating a more user friendly local planning department and the third is to work closely with Gympie Regional Council on their economic development plan to help facilitate more industrial and commercial growth in the region.

He hopes to do this with close consultation with other people with an interest in the Gympie business community.

"We want to listen to the business community and formulate our three goals around that,” he said.

Tony has a background in business development with his role with the Real Estate Industry of Queensland.

He also owned two successful real estate agencies in Caboolture before moving to the Gympie region in 2004.

As a Gympie businessman Tony is passionate about promoting Mary St to locals and visitors alike.

After buying his centrally located business, Bella Casa, soon after, Tony became a member of the Gympie Town Centre Stakeholder Reference Group.

It was also through his prompting the regular Mary St events began five years ago.

The man with the plan to see regular events in Mary St adopted with some kind of permanency is delighted the Gympie Regional Council has embraced the concept.

The quarterly events are now regularly attended by thousands of people and take place close to Easter, mid-winter and two nights in the fortnight before Christmas.

"A strong, dynamic and vibrant town centre sends psychological ripples out into the community,” he said.

#5 Shelley Strachan (up from #7 in 2018)

Shelley Strachan.
Shelley Strachan. Renee Albrecht

GYMPIE Times editor Shelley Strachan has jumped up the list again this year from #7 to #5 of the region's most influential.

The two-times winning editor of the Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Area Community News Brand of the Year and 2018 recipient of the News Corp Achievements in Regional Journalism award has been at the helm of The Gympie Times for four years.

The Gympie Times is the undisputed primary source of local and regional news from Tiaro and Bauple in the north, to the Mary Valley in the south, Kilkivan, Goomeri and Tansey in the west, Rainbow Beach, Tin Can Bay and Cooloola Cove in the east and all places in between.

From its multiple platforms - print, website, ePaper, social media - it tells the news of the day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including local council, crime, court, sport, rural, business and education, the victories, achievements and struggles of local residents, breaking news and so much more.

In April 2018, the Federal Government bowed to a strategic campaign from The Gympie Times and Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien to fast track construction of the $1 billion Gympie Bypass. The 26km project will start later this year or in early 2020, four years earlier than first mooted and a move that will save at least 50 lives, boost the local economy and increase investment.

Last August, The Gympie Times beat out The Gold Coast Bulletin and Townsville Bulletin to win the News Corp Australia 2018 Achievements in Regional Journalism Award, Ms Strachan flying to Sydney to accept the gong at a dinner attended by Lachlan and Rupert Murdoch.

For four of the last six years, The Gympie Times has been named News Media Community News Brand of the Year, and for six out of six years, including this year, has been a finalist.

Ms Strachan is an alumni of James Nash State High School. She is a loud and passionate advocate for the region and a respected daily editor in the News Corp Australia stable, which has a national print audience of 12.3 million people, a digital audience of 12.2 million and a mobile (phone) audience of 7 million.

The Gympie Times itself is read by more than 32,000 people each week, has a weekly online audience of more than 40,000, and a Facebook following of more than 20,000. Four out of five people in the region read The Gympie Times.

#2 Mick Curran (up from #3 in 2018)

Mayor Mick Curran.
Mayor Mick Curran. Troy Jegers

GYMPIE Mayor Mick Curran's fourth year at the head of the council continued the trend of major work being unveiled within the region.

Cr Curran's council has delivered a slew of projects in the past year, including the first full year of operations for the historic Mary Valley Rattler, stage two of the extremely popular River to Rail Trail, construction of the Gympie Youth Hub and Kilkivan Equestrian Centre.

The council is also credited with playing a key role in bringing Laminex on board at the old Carter Holt Harvey site when its shut-down loomed and resolving the five-year fight over the empty Tafe building.

But perhaps his most understated achievement may be bringing Aussie rock icon Jimmy Barnes to Gympie to help celebrate the region's 150th birthday in a record-breaking concert in 2017.

His political impact extends outside the region too - Cr Curran sits as the chair of the Wide Bay Burnett Region of Councils.

And there is a swathe of work still under way: a regional RV strategy, a possible industrial mega-hub near Kybong and the future of Gympie's saleyards to name a few.

All told it is an extensive list and one not without critics, who argue the list of achievements has come at a financial cost higher than the community can afford.

It is an argument Cr Curran has refuted on multiple occasions, saying the previously high reserve levels were failing the community on two levels - lost opportunity and not providing value for money to the ratepayer.

And he continues to stand by the region's rate rises as being among the lowest since amalgamation, despite outpacing CPI.

His run as the council's leader is the latest step in a public service career spanning more than three decades.

This includes an extensive run with the Queensland Police Service in uniform, investigative and managerial roles.

He received the Bravery Medal from governor-general at the time Peter Cosgrove in 2016.

Cr Curran said his unhappiness with Gympie's reputation outside Queensland was a driving force behind his decision to step into politics in 2012.

His goal was to make the region and city Queensland's place to be.

The award-winning Gympie Aquatic Centre and Smithfield St upgrades sit alongside the council's achievements under Cr Curran since he took over from the late Ron Dyne in 2015 after winning a hotly contested by-election.

He was re-elected more comfortably in 2016.


This list is a subjective talking point, not a scientific guide. We welcome feedback from the public. It is about the 30 most powerful and /or influential men, women and children living in the Gympie region. How strong and broad is their influence? A special committee of four community leaders from various walks of life have voted on who should be on this 2019 list and where they rank.

Is there somebody you think should be on the list? Email your contenders to editor@gympietimes or comment below and tell us why.

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