Revealed: top 10 Bundy people who had a big 2018
IT'S been a big year for Bundaberg. The Cashless Debit Card was given the green light, a Regional Deal has been struck and the business community has been active.
Here editor Adam Wratten takes a look at some of those who have made the headlines for the right, and occasionally wrong, reasons. It's the first of a series of year-end features we will run over coming weeks.
Senior Sergeant Michael McGarry arrived in the region in May. The top cop immediately made his mark as he weighed in on the debate about the Cashles Debit Card and a proposal to introduce it in Bundaberg. He was supportive of the initiative, if implemented properly. A few months later and Sen Sgt McGarry was back in the headlines for the right reasons as he spoke about how Bundaberg police were making significant in-roads into the region's domestic violence rates. The number of cases dropped by 50 for the 12-month to the end of September, compared to the same period the year before.
After hearing a defendant had returned a blood alcohol reading of 0.062 at a roadside breath test, Magistrate Neil Lavaring questioned the system itself. "He's not far over the limit," Mr Lavaring said in August. "Sometimes I wonder if the limit's a bit low. I shouldn't say that, but I don't know why we changed from the old 0.08 because no one at that end is really grossly affected, are they? "What I'm trying to say is the people who are 0.10 and above, they're the concerning ones." His comments made national news.
Footballers don't get much more big time game action in a year than what Felipe Kaufusi got in 2018. Kaufusi played in the NRL grand final for the Melbourne Storm, represented Australia at Test level and made his State of Origin debut, where he was recognised as Queensland's best forward of the series.
It's been a busy year at Bundaberg Regional Council and few have been more active than councillor Helen Blackburn. As well as having one of the highest attendance records at council meetings, Cr Blackburn has also taken on the presidency of the Bundaberg RSL sub-branch. The sub-branch has been in the headlines plenty of times this past year, including for an April changing of the guard shortly before Anzac Day. As well as everything she's done with the council and RSL, Cr Blackburn has also successfully run a small business.
You can take the man out of Bundaberg, but you can't take Bundaberg out of the man. That's one of the first impressions you get when you come face to face with Lex Greensill. The sugar cane and sweet potato farmer turned global corporate giant was recently named Australia's newest financial unicorn after his company, Greensill Capital, was valued at $US1.64 billion ($2.27b Aus). Greensill Capital, which Lex founded in 2011, delivers supply chain finance to more than 1.5 million small businesses across 56 countries.
While he may not be as local as most of the others on this list, Sheng Wei has certainly become a household name for many in Bundaberg. Mr Wei is the man behind the controversial Jewel highrise development at Bargara. Despite the development application being lodged with council in the first quarter of the year, the project is still in limbo, waiting on a decision from the Queensland Government. For the record, Mr Wei reportedly has property in the region.
This year was always going to be a big one for John McLean, who was recognised in March as Bundaberg's most influential person. With Bundaberg Brewed Drinks celebrating its 50th year, the company's CEO had plenty on his plate. But Mr McLean wasn't just looking back, he also has an eye to the future. The company has redeveloped its famous barrel, to ensure tourists have a cool place to visit when in town and in October revealed plans for a new brewery, which will bring at least 350 jobs to the region. Mr McLean said the popular brewing company would build a $156 million super brewery to meet growth predictions in coming years.
In a year when the reputations of those in the banking and financial sector took a huge hit, Auswide CEO Martin Barrett has done a remarkable job. In fact Mr Barrett's organisation has made significant moves to improve the business's industry standing.
In November, Auswide announced it was sponsoring the Queensland Maroons, a play that is sure to raise the company's profile.
The bank has also made a major bid to lure disenchanted customers of the big four banks with some creative offerings.
You'd expect the region's mayor to be in top spot or second on this list. But even by his lofty standards, 2018 has been a big year for Jack Dempsey. There wouldn't be enough space in these pages to list everything Cr Dempsey has done, but some of the more noteworthy include his speaking out on the controversial Cashless Debit Card and backing of the Jewel project at nine storeys. He has also spruiked the benefits of business in Bundaberg on his travels to Boston and China. This week he turned up the pressure on the Queensland Government for a level 5 hospital, after his council officers had previously aired the prospect of building such a facility in the CBD, and just yesterday, Cr Dempsey hosted nationally-renowned demographer Bernard Salt where the focus was on the economy.
In February, Hinkler MP Keith Pitt told Parliament 2018 would be a year of action. It's been a big year for the politician, who managed to get two of his signature policies implemented. In September, the Cashless Debit Card got the green light in the senate. This measure will impact at least 6000 Hinkler welfare recipients from January. Mr Pitt followed this up in November with the announcement Hinkler had secured the nation's first Regional Deal. While there's still some way to go, it should deliver a clear blueprint to drive Bundy's future economic growth and see tens of millions of dollars invested in the region. Added to all this Mr Pitt also stepped down from the Cabinet during what has been a trying year for the government. Mr Pitt resigned from the position of assistant minister to the Deputy Prime Minister. At that time he told the community he took the move so he could speak out on issues of importance for the Hinkler electorate.