I have served this region now for fourteen years, eight of those as mayor of the Bungil Shire. I hope to be elected mayor of the Roma Regional Council in March 2008. I feel a strong connection to the region and believe I represent many other people in the community who want great things for the council and the region. This site shows my position on some key issues. If you wish to discuss any issues in more detail or ask a question please contact me on robertlough [at] bigpond [dot] com.

1. Sound Financial and Asset Management.

We are fortunate that our five constituent councils have generally run a pretty good show financially. The financial challenges within some of our councils are fairly well known and we have to face up to them sooner rather than later.

I know that debt levels amongst the councils have climbed significantly in the last few years.

I believe this debt is justified so long as it is targeted at fixing our current core infrastructure. However where this money has been spent on building even more infrastructure it compounds existing financial strain with additional recurrent operational and maintenance costs.

My program for the financial future of the region is based on ensuring that existing infrastructure is sustainable so that we can build capacity and not just plug leaky holes. I see the airport, which has severe substructural and drainage faults, as one asset that needs work and already generates good revenue streams for the Council.

Our ability to manage the finances and assets of the region depends on sensible management and entrepreneurial solutions rather than necessarily cutting services or selling assets. I do not support selling the Roma Saleyards for example as a strategy to find the necessary funding to upgrade the airport as has been suggested by some. We need to retain our successful business units and the suggestion of selling a rural asset to upgrade an urban one does not sit comfortably with me.

Rob Loughnan and his boys at the saleyards

2. Business as Usual

The recent upheaval of local government boundaries by the State Government has left many communities unsettled and potentially reactionary. We are seeing higher than normal movement of staff from our local councils due to the disruption and we have to stem the flow.

In the period of adjustment following the elections I will strongly encourage management and Council to take a ‘business as usual’ approach to council and use our first two years to refine the processes and planning processes and to get the systems working not just well but better than they were.

Once the council has been elected my focus will be to bed down new systems, iron out the inevitable problems and make sure we get the critical decisions and directions right. For the sake of our 300 staff we must provide a secure environment and make sure we get the senior staff appointments right. This Council must have the right people and policies in place before we can start to go forward.

I am proposing two years of no change to our current operations and certainly no more major capital works until we assess the condition of our assets and implement solutions that will actually improve our net situation rather than degrade it.

The boys take Rob to check out their bumper oats crop.

3. A Strategic Approach to Population Growth

A February 2006 report by the Department of State Development projects the combined population of Roma, Bungil and Taroom Shires trebling by the year 2030. While that sort of growth might sound extraordinary and probably is overblown, some rapid growth is inevitable and we need to be ready for it.

I intend to drive a reform of the council planning processes across the entire area to cater for the anticipated growth in development applications and new business opportunities. The key driver of this growth is the coal methane gas industry. We need a council that understands the dynamics of the industry and has the skills to interact with both industry and government leaders to lead this change. We need to be a business friendly council.

Inappropriate developments such as the recent second saleyards which threatened to impede the orderly growth of Roma must be fought vigorously while effort must be made to spread the growth and benefits across the whole council area.

Prince Phillip's visit to Roma.

(left to right) Di Loughnan, Robert Loughan, Prince Phillip.

4. Creative Community Engagement Strategies.

For nine councillors to adequately serve the interests of 13,040 people dispersed over an area only just smaller than Tasmania, we will require some solid and creative community engagement strategies. I advocate a small network of advisory boards, each with broad community membership, to assist the council to represent the needs of an expansive and diverse region. This model has been successfully employed in New Zealand and I am proposing that each of the former council areas will have a Board in their main towns if supported locally.

The proposed advisory boards would require council representation at meetings so that minutes could be taken back for further action and information. To support remote residents I have asked AgForce to consider forming an advisory board partnership with Council. I have also indicated my intention to allow a regional chamber of commerce to give regional business direct access to Council and to help work through some of our planning and growth issues.

Community consultation through the network of advisory boards as well as traditional consultation and an open door policy will help mitigate the double tyranny of reduced councillor numbers in larger council regions.

5. Commitment to an Open and Accountable Council

I stand for a council that represents its community and is therefore open and accessible to any wishing to attend. I would envisage full Council meetings will be held every fortnight although these will be more often initially. There will be considerable strategic and planning meetings in addition to these. I am proposing that regardless of the timing and every second meeting will be held in Roma with the others alternating around the region.

I anticipate and advocate full day meetings for the simple reason that better decisions are made when councillors are not trying to fit council work around their own. The concept of rotating meetings around the council area acknowledges Roma as the head office and population centre while still representing the broader geographic community. I will strive to ensure the whole of councils’ operations are underpinned by the principles of equity and fairness.

Contact Scruff at robertlough [at] bigpond [dot] com

6. Identity

The reform of local government has changed more that boundaries.

The Queensland government ruled that new council areas would be named after the main towns unless councils were unanimous in their preference for another. The decision to run with ‘Roma’ was a controversial one and was only supported by one of the five current councils.

This region has always been collectively known as the ‘Maranoa’ after the major river in our area and that term is widely recognised on the news and weather outlets and by most locals. The only way that name can now be changed is by a public vote and a referral to the government.

I advocate that this matter should not be decided by myself or by Council but by a formal democratic poll of our residents.

Rob and Di Loughnan.
Married in the region and now raising a family in the region.

Letter To the Residents of Roma Regional Shire

Dear Roma Resident,

My name is Robert Loughnan and I am writing to you to ask for your support in the local government election in March. I am standing for the position of mayor of the new Roma Regional Council which encompasses the town of Roma as well as the current Bungil, Warroo, Bendedmere amd Booringa Shire councils.

More than any council election in the past, it will be vital to select candidates who are up to the job for the next four years and have a contribution to make in terms of substance and policy. As the current mayor of the Bungil Shire Council I am certain I have the knowledge of our overall situation and the ability to lead a positive and progressive council. If I could see someone with better credentials and better able to achieve that I would not be a candidate.

The two biggest issues your councillors will need to face up to in this term will be the question of representation and the neglected condition of our infrastructure, mainly in Roma. We simply need to make sure that public assets are ready to adapt to the stress of what I believe will be a rapid population increase in the next decade.

On the question of representation, I have outlined some strategies that I think will give our collective community a greater degree of ownership of this council than they might have had.

If you can see your way clear to vote for me it would be appreciated. I cannot achieve my vision for the council however unless I have at least four other people with similar goals elected as councillors. I intend to publish on my web page the names of all candidates who contact me to advise they will support my vision should I become mayor in March. Certainly a number of councillors outside Roma have already done so. I must ask you to give your vote the consideration it deserves.


Robert Loughnan

Snapshot of Candidates and the Roma Regional Council

Mayoral Candidates
Don Hatcher
Robert Loughnan
David Bowden
Bruce Garvie

Councillor Candidates
Joy Denton
Gay Burey
Jason Bartels
Peter Joseph Flynn
Scott Wason
Iris Aldridge
Tyson Golder
Bill Purcell
Annette Mills
Jill Baker
Barry McCabe
Jan Chambers
Henry Byrnes
Dallas Williams
Ree Price
David Schefe
Tony Garland
Bruce Boucaut
David Scott
Wayne Wehl
Tom Hartley
August Johanson
Jeff Watson
Greg Richardson

Regional Snapshot
Area – 58,823 square kilometres.(12th largest in Queensland)
Community equity – $309 m.
Length of unsealed roads – 5917 kilometres (7th most in Queensland)
Staff – 303
Operating revenue – $44 m.
Capex – $18m.
Operating revenue per councillor not including mayor – $5.5m.
Current population – 13,040.
Average median income – $497 p.w
Indigenous population – 6.96%.
Average age – 35.2

Aged 0-14 – 24.6%
Aged 15-29 – 18.75%
Aged 30-44 – 22.48%
Aged 45-59 – 20.06%
Aged 60-74 – 11.84%
Aged over 75 – 2.71%