John Leslie Beausang
John was Landsborough Shire Council Chairman/Caloundra City Mayor from 1964 – 1988
Date of interview: 12 May 1998.
Interviewer: Dianne Warner
John Leslie Beausang was Landsborough Shire Council Chairman/Caloundra City Mayor from 1964 – 1988. A good insight into local government and Caloundra history from the 1950s.
Image: Cr Jack Beausang, Chairman of Landsborough Shire Council for twenty four years, ca 1970.
Images and documents about John Leslie Beausang in Sunshine Coast Libraries Catalogue.
John Leslie Beausang Oral History Part One [224 MB]
John Leslie Beausang Oral History Part Two [86 MB]
Landsborough Shire Councillor Reflections 1955
DW In April, 1955 you became a member of Landsborough Shire Council representing rural areas of Conondale, Witta and Cambroon district. This was Division One. What prompted you to stand for council?
JB Because the general condition of our roads were very poorly attended to. The people of my district felt that we needed someone in our area to help work to bring about an improvement in the road system. There was no bitumen on the roads, there was no concrete pipes or culverts. There was a lot of improvements needed. That was the reason I was asked to stand and did.
DW Who were the Councillors during your term who in your opinion laid the inaugural foundations of the Shire?
JB Well, that can go back even prior to my time. Just to mention there was a man in Conondale by the name of Mr Minchenton and a man named Roderick. Mr Minchenton used to ride from Conondale to Landsborough. This was in the days when it was not a Shire but a region of Caboolture. Mr Minchenton used to ride his horse to Landsborough, take a lantern with him as there was no torches in those days. He would then catch the train down to Caboolture come back that night on the six o’clock train to Landsborough and then ride home to Conondale. Now they were the starters, the beginners.
DW How long would that trip on the horse have taken him?
JB Well, I would assume it would have taken him about two and a half to three hours each way. Of course, that was for the love of country.
DW The other gentleman you mentioned?
JB I don’t know how he got there, he came at a later stage. I think he had an old vehicle and was able to get down in that.
DW Who was that person?
JB Roderick, I can’t remember his Christian name. He was a councillor way back in those early days. Then when time went on and I was elected. Prior to my time there was also some other good councillors namely Councillor Grigor, Councillor Maddern and Councillor Cox. It is so easy to forget way back all of those years. That is a jolly long time ago. It would be over sixty years ago that I am talking about. They were very conscientious people. Lawley was on the council for a time. Gee, that is a long time ago. In my time from when I was elected we had some outstanding councillors namely Councillor Dave Hankinson and Councillor Rixon Burnett. They were two outstanding councillors. Councillor Hankinson for thirty three years, Councillor Burnett for twenty seven years. Councillor Hankinson died in operation whilst he was on the council. Councillor Burnett retired after twenty seven years. Then of course we had other councillors come along and served time but not as long as those people. Well then down at the Caloundra end there was some very good councillors from down here too. We had Councillor Ben Bennett, the late councillor. A lot of councillors have passed on, but a lot of councillors didn’t retain their positions like the rural councillors. People coming from the southern states they wouldn’t know people the same. If they didn’t get everything that they thought they should of have had they would appoint or try and elect someone.
DW What about Muriel Westaway?
JB Now Muriel Westaway was on the council for a long period of time. She was actually a school teacher before she married. She was on the council and as a matter of fact the funny side of it, it is very funny, because when the man built Westaway Towers she was very opposed to Westaway Towers being built up there. When he decided to name it after her she backed off!
DW She had a lot to do with the life saving movement as well?
JB Yes, she was good for the district.
DW How did people vote in the rural areas at that time?
JB Well. It is very hard to remember back. I know in the Division, I represented there was around about one hundred and thirty people voted. I would say possibly about one and a half thousand voted in Division Two where Councillor Hankinson and Birt came from. Of course, we have had some good councillors since. Out in the far end there we have had Councillor Carberry and in Maleny we have had Councillor Thorne and Councillor Johnson, Councillor Veritz. Maleny has had a lot of good councillors. Then of course, more recently prior to just a few years ago there was Jill Jordan. She performed very well. Her place has been taken by Councillor Ian Bryce.
The numbers have changed in the last few years with regard to the Council. Representation, we used to have twelve councillors and a chairman. It is down now to I think, eight councillors and a mayor. The name of the boss has been changed from Chairman to Mayor. Representing Glass House Mountains and Beerwah there was Councillor Colley and Councillor Burgess. Oh, there has been a lot of good councillors represent this area.
DW Was it a postal vote system in the early days or did people come to town to vote on that day?
JB No, for the greater part of the time that I was in Council it was postal vote then it changed to ballot box vote. I don’t know of course but it has reached the stage now with the number of people that you need to have a ballot box. I think.
DW What were the main problems in the area that you represented yourself?
JB Well, the main problems in my area, was of course being in a valley there was a lot of waterways, creeks and then there was the Mary River. This meant bridges and there were so many gullies and culverts. A lot of our roads were subject to them, when you got on the top on Witta and Curramore, the red soil in the early days before we got bitumen roads, the cream trucks would travel them and they would cut deep ruts. Cars would fall in them and you could not get anywhere, you see. We earned it in the bush, people did but they liked it, they didn’t mind the challenge. Complained at times, they would go crook at their Councillors until they realised they had limited funds.
DW What were the interests of the community that you represented?
JB Well, in the main, my community was timber getting, grazing, dairy farming and agricultural farming, to some extent. Plus, of course, pigs were raised, on the farms. But, today there are less dairy farmers than there ever were. In my early days, on the council, the Maleny area factory was a butter factory. The late councillor, Paul Hankinson and I who represented our area, firstly, had 68 dairy farmers in that valley, from Cambroon to the top of the range and that didn’t include all of Witta.
DW With these sorts of interests of the community, did it involve a lot of council input in order to help these people?
JB I wouldn’t say that it did. After all, to run a council was always very difficult, because it’s always the same as most people starting out, lack of money, insufficient money. It’s marvellous what you can do if you have sufficient money, and then of course in those early days it was pick and shovel. It wasn’t all the machinery like we have today, and in those early days when I was first elected we had horse graders, so then we bought the grader, and of course we bought, after the war, we bought two or three ex-army vehicles. From then on we reached the stage where no doubt, local government has been brought up to date regarding equipment, which is a good thing for local government.
DW Where were the council depots and offices located, when you first became a councillor ?
JB Well, the council depot was at Landsborough and the Shire office was at Landsborough, when I was first elected, that was back in 1946 - When was I elected?
(dw in April ’55 you became a member of Landsborough Shire Council) That’s right - in April ’55. When I was elected in April ’55 that’s where the Shire Building was, today it’s used for a Museum.
(dw -and the depot is still in the same spot?) Well, I don’t know what it’s used for, but it’s still there and in my opinion is still used for doing work on some of the machinery that’s in the area.
DW And so they were still the same, I guess, that would have been a reasonably new building that council office there when you first came in.
JB No, it wasn’t, it had been there a long time when I came in, in fact it was started to be put there in 1912, that was when I was born.
DW What kind of equipment did council workers have for road making?
JB In those early days, pick and shovel and then it got around to horse and graders - horse and draught horses and graders, and then drays and wagons and different types.
DW How did you get the workers with the pick and shovels to the site?
JB They used to go on the wagons and later on, on the trucks.
DW So say there was something that needed doing at Conondale, how would you get your men to work over there?
JB Travel - they used to travel by the medium of road transport, which was virtually buggies or wagons and horses. Then it got around, of course, to old vehicles and then of course, trucks.
DW I guess they might stay out in an outlying area over night?
JB Oh well, yes they used to camp out there, if they were working out here they used to stay out there, from Monday to Friday.
DW When did Council get it’s first power grader as opposed to a horse drawn grader ?
JB I think that would have been two or three years after the war ended.
DW What were the roads like in the district in those times?
JB Well, they weren’t very good really, the backs of the highway from Brisbane to Landsborough were reasonable but the rest of the roads, they’ve upgraded in the last 20 years, 30 years.
DW When you first became a councillor, were there any indoor staff?
JB I think that, possibly, including the Shire Clerk who is the CEO now, there would have been perhaps, five all together including everybody in the office.
DW What about outdoor staff?
JB Well, outdoor staff, it’s a little hard for me to estimate but I think our outdoor staff would have been round about 20 or 30.
DW Were there different departments within the actual Landsborough Shire Council staff say like the Health Department?
JB Well, it’s very hard to determine really, because it was only, there was no such thing as computers, of course, there was only typewriters and they improved on that and stepped up a little bit and there was always handwriting to be done and gees there was no doubt about it!
DW So who would have inspected the buildings as things were built?
JB Who would have inspected the buildings?
DW Like you’ve got the building inspectors and different things like that.
JB Those early stages we used to hire building inspectors with Caboolture. We had to keep the costs down in those days because there wasn’t the volume of work like there is these days naturally. When you look back over it it’s amazing the transformation because just like when I first came down here, you know, I surfed at all these beaches. Liked Kings Beach the best. That’s how I come to get involved I suppose with Landsborough Shire and Caloundra City like it is today. Those times of course, there was no bitumen in Bulcock Beach and if you wanted to get over to Kings Beach, on Sunday morning you wanted to have three or four people in the back of your car or get there early before the sand got dug up - the good old days they talk about you know. A lot of these old timers and pioneers --- these good old days we talk about.
Cyclone Devastation: Impacts on council
DW Caloundra was hit by a cyclone whilst you were in office which supposedly caused a huge drain on funds and caused over a million pounds worth of damage. Can you tell us about this disaster and what steps were taken to repair the town and the surrounding district?
JB Well, of course I remember that. Caused a lot of destruction on our respective beaches and well all our beaches but particularly up the top end of Kawana where it broke open. The water broke over and it’s an interesting study really, in view of the fact that I had councillors along with myself who were not happy about that dune being lowered as low as it was. We turned out to be right and the experts on that occasion were wrong but you don’t know with nature. You can’t be sure but I’m just telling that two councillors. That Dave Hankinson, he was a man that had great experience down in the bush. He lived up on top where he could see the ocean and where he lived all those years and he could all tell us about three days before when there was going to be rain. Same day, but he was very much opposed to lowering the dune he was one but there were others, Caloundra - there was some Caloundra Councillors too and I’ve just forgotten their respective names now.
DW Councillor Hankinson not believing, not thinking that this was a good idea regarding the Kawana….
JB He didn’t think that it was a good idea to lower the dunes as low as what the official document stated but we weren’t successful in altering it.
DW You voted against it in Council did you?
JB Well we talked it over with the seat. The Government had the say.
DW The State Government?
JB Yes, but however we couldn’t convince them to change it so that’s what happened, but anyway the water came and broke over, you see, by cripes, I hope it doesn’t do that again because it will be worse now without….
DW What happened then at that time?
JB Oh well, it had to be restored the bank had to be filled in again, the danger to people’s houses because that’s very low up there, see the dune was all that was keeping a big, well it would have to be a big cyclone before it would come over and that reason I hope it doesn’t.
DW And in those days there wasn’t many people about so it didn’t do any damage.
JB No no, luckily it wasn’t but……
DW And was it a big opening when it broke through?
JB Yes, it covered about as wide as this building, I suppose. It let a lot of water through.
DW Who would have had to pick up the costs of …..
JB Predominantly, we had to pick up the bulk of it at the Council that’s why it cost a lot of money, you see, and of course Kings Beach got knocked about Dicky Beach got knocked about. The whole lot, even at Golden Beach.
DW Were you surprised when this cyclone came in, was it a surprise or…..
JB Not really, because I’ve lived all my life and we’d had a few big cyclones, you know, that I had copped before I was on Council that we had experienced. We’re not getting them now, luckily, you know, there were a couple of big ones come down the coast and wheel away and I was pleased to see that because of the fact that people could lose their lives and their homes. Me and my wife lived in town here.
Transport and roads: Early Caloundra
DW We are going to go back to your boyhood, now and just ask you a few things about your boyhood. What were the roads like during your boyhood?
JB Alright, to be quite candid, they weren’t roads at all they were surveyed and down the bottom end where I, where my people lived, (dw : where was that?) Cambroon, A… Peak, on the bottom end of Conondale and Cambroon were the boundaries and those days, of course, there was even gates across the road. Roads weren’t fenced. I’ll never forget one of our neighbours coming out one day, hadn’t been driving a car very long and he had a Dodge, fortunately, 25 Model Dodge and went to put the brake on, stopped to get out and open the gate and my mother happened to be on the verandah, strangely enough, and instead of putting the brake on he put the accelerator on and went straight through the gate, smashed the gate didn’t even hardly put much of a dent. Those old time 25 Dodge’s you could have hit them with a hammer and it would have bounced off. Hit my car now with a hammer and it would go straight through, that’s the difference, see. The roads at that time, I’d like to say there was no metal on them, there was no drainage no culverts. Oh gee, like that……and we had when my father got our first car we had to cross the Mary River in two places to go to Kenilworth. Sandy crossings, well we owned a property down between the 4 mile and 3 mile 500 acre property, we went down one day working, ring barking. We came back and there had been a rise in the river all I could see out of the back of the car somebody had come from Brisbane and driven straight into it and anyway they were there for a week. I know the name of the people, he was a saddler from Imbil, that’s over at Mary Valley. So, you know there were just no roads. However, we survived and when we came there to live first, of course, the bread was blue mouldy, when we get it off the trucks. Then my mother started making her own bread and she made her own bread for years.
DW What type of transport was used in those early days of your boyhood?
JB Trucks, old Rio trucks, about three people from Kenilworth since have had them. The trucks used to come Kenilworth way to us and come Maleny way down to about as far as Sandy Creek, I mean, which would be, I suppose perhaps 2 kilometres today at that stage about a mile and a half further up, didn’t come down to us so that’s the way our produce went to Gympie for they were those early days. Then, of course in the later years went to Maleny. I’d like to say, I was a Director of Maleny Area Association for 17 years and boy, have I had the experience.
DW Were there many cars using the roads in the district, when you were first in Council?
JB Not a great number, there would have been, might have been possibly eight or ten in our district down in Conondale and Cambroon. That would be about it.
Oh, but of course today, I reckon there would be a thousand go through in a day.
DW This changed reasonably rapidly after 1955, though?
JB Well, I wouldn’t say that it changed rapidly but it continued to change because we had some very able people that were very interested in improving the district and that applied to Conondale, Cambroon and Maleny. I won’t mention Kenilworth because that’s down the other way, but people put a lot into it. But in those early stages what they went through I know because they told me, no reason to doubt what they said. In those early times I can tell you that after my father bought that car which was a ’29 Chev 6, first 6 on the road, put a pair of chains on them they have good clearance. We went twice up on the top of the range and we walked into Maleny, but we only did it twice, my that’s a long way. You couldn’t drive in because the cream trucks had the tracks this deep, you slipped in ….
DW These were these trucks?
JB Yes, the cream trucks.
DW Were they the ones that took your produce as well?
JB Yes, they were the cream trucks they took everything.
DW And they came once a day?
JB Yes, they came back and they brought bread, meat and that back for people as they came back that afternoon.
DW Who would have driven the cream truck?
JB Actually, speaking there were different people on, a man named Harry Lyons, we used and a man named Skerman, drove one. The Sallaways had them for years. Sallaways had the trucks for a long time, people named Sallaways. There is one of them living down here in Caloundra, somewhere. One of the later lot. Oh, he’d be in his sixties now, might be seventy. But they were the later people, but Salaways were in the early stages, and Harry Lyons did a fair bit, tipped those pigs of mine over the Spider Bridge too, but that’s by the by. That’s nothing to do with the road.
DW How did the pigs go?
JB None of them got killed but we had to get them out, it was a lot of trouble.
DW Were you there all day?
JB Spider used two round logs, squared off and that’s across the river, you see, the boat was right under and the steering went or what, and he tipped the lot in. He wasn’t killed either it’s a miracle – dropped down twelve feet on the sandy bed.
DW How did they get the truck out?
JB I just forget, now, with a tractor, with a big tractor, you know a timber tractor and they pulled it out like that and of course, wire ropes and block and tackle.
DW What was the timber tractor?
JB I’m not sure, because you see they used to have timber tractors for pulling the timber – (big, strong tractors? – dw), oh yes, Caterpillars.
DW What type of public transport was in place when you first became a councillor?
JB When I first became a councillor well really speaking there used to be a couple of people in Maleny that used to sort of run for hire. They might run people to Nambour, most people find their own way, with cars to get there. In my early days I, the first dances that we went to were, my sister and I, she’s dead now sadly, we rode with our father to Conondale to the dance – rode. Now frost was on the ground when we got home see it was a distance of about, let’s see it would have been at least five miles, so that would be round about seven and a half kilometres or there abouts.
DW How long did that take you? How long would that have taken you to get to the dance?
JB Oh cripes, a couple of hours.
DW The dances must have been worth it!
JB Oh gosh! Some of the experiences that I had. My brother and I came home and we played cricket in Maleny. I came home and I arrived home from up the old homestead at Conondale and it was pitch dark and I finished up over on the other side, the wrong side of the road and I was lost. Anyway, I got home, but never again, I hope. Rained all day, too, showers, we played in the rain.
DW How did you see in the dark?
JB Well this was the trouble, see, I was depending on the horse to ride it. The horse was doing better than me but I pulled him over and put him onto a road that went up into what they called ‘Scrubby Creek’ but that was, just, my home was down this way see, so anyway, I got home!
DW But as far as people using some form of transport to perhaps connect with the train?
JB Oh well, there used to be a hire service from Maleny to Landsborough to catch the train, at Landsborough. There used to be cars to use. Then that went out of date and people got their own cars and they didn’t run it. Oh, they ran it for a lot of years afterwards, but I don’t think it was very profitable. People sort of like to be independent like to find their own way that they can afford.
DW So when people decided that they might want to go to Brisbane, which wasn’t often, I suppose. They would then drive their car down to Landsborough?
JB They still do, a lot of them still leave their vehicles there. A lot of people work in Brisbane, believe it or not! By gee, they go to Brisbane and back to Maleny, and drive down in the mornings.
DW Did you ever imagine these sorts of things would happen in your early years?
JB Well, I suppose you have got to expect nearly anything, when you go back to the early stages when all you had was horses to start with. You know, we had no means of transport other than that. When we came there to live my father he hired a man to bring us over in an overland motorcar, from Imbil. We were living on the Yabba Creek at Imbil at that time, that’s before I come over. I’ve been 74 years in the district, since I came there with my parents, luckily. Giving cheek. Anyway, that’s the history. But as far as that goes, it’s just marvellous what people have to go through, the same as down here. I know the road between Caloundra and getting down to Brisbane it used to be shocking.
DW Caloundra to Brisbane, that was a bad road, was it?
JB Oh yes, no doubt about that. There was a time when there wasn’t a road. I’ve gone down that Brisbane Road and you were lucky, if you got there in two days.
DW You, as a Councillor as time went on …
JB This was before I was a Councillor.
DW As from the 50s I guess you would have had to travel a lot to Brisbane?
JB Well, I … this is true. From the time I was elected to Council because of my, I was fairly well known in the community. I was nominated the first year I was on to go to the first Conference in Brisbane, of which they have got a Conference up here, Rockhampton or somewhere, in a couple of weeks time, I think. From that time on, and then of course, I was also nominated to go on to the North Coast Local Government Association, which has disappeared now. I was Deputy Chairman of that for three or six years and then I was when Jack Bray, John Bray pulled out for health. I was appointed the Chairman and I was the Chairman of that, until John Smith said to me one day – he said, "Mr Chairman, I wish to give it away, I’ve got too much to do – and he did. I said, okay John". The last three years I was on Council I wasn’t on that, I pulled out and a man from Gympie (although he has been beaten since) he was on it.
DW You had a motto – "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Is there a story around this motto?
JB Well, I suppose it was sort of instilled into me. I had, as I told you, an educated Mother, a Father that wasn’t, a fault in a way. But he had, as I told you, that belief that a community is only as good as what the people in it were prepared to do for it. By gee, he pushed me to do that, voluntarily, you didn’t get paid for doing it. You know he carried it out too, because I can tell you this, and it’s true, after he bought that motor car I was turned virtually in many respects into a taxi driver, unpaid. Lady took ill, on her way to have a baby, Jack would have to take her. Someone had to go and meet a train or someone had to go and meet someone else, Jack had to go and get them. I did an awful lot of running about through the years.
DW So you became a good driver with those terrible roads and also a mechanic, by the sounds of it!
JB I certainly learnt to drive on roads that didn’t exist. I had a good car for the type of road and also the first lot of chains we got given to us. But the car, broke the first day I was out and my father didn’t beat about, he said, "For Christ sake, get a decent pair of these chains". I said, "Well, I think they sell them down at Barry Parade" and they did. (dw – where is this Barry Parade?) In Brisbane. I still got two or three of the lengths on Gateshead, you know the crossbars but now you couldn’t put them on the present cars. But on that car, where I travelled with that car was unbelievable.
DW This was your father’s first car?
JB Yes, a Chevrolet.
President of The North Coast Local Government Association
DW For a period of twelve years you were President of the North Coast Local Government Association, which represented twelve Local Authorities covering the Shires between Pine Rivers and Maryborough. Can you tell me about your involvement with the Local Government Association of Queensland.
JB Well, yes of course, there were ten zones in Queensland, of which we were zone two. As indicated, from Redcliffe to Hervey Bay, we had cities. There was Gympie City, Maryborough City, Pine Rivers, Redland’s and there was the Mary Shire, of course. I put my best effort into that and it was voluntary, in the same way that I did into the Council, because I believe that you are valued on your performance and I did my best for those areas. I’m still well known in different parts of them. A lot of the people who knew me, of course, have passed on now.
DW So you would have had in that period of time - we ourselves in this community here in Caloundra, we had Sir Lesley Wilson, come to this area and Sir Frances Nicklin. These people you would have had a lot to do with, I guess in being part of this organisation as well.
JB I had a lot to do with them, in many respects. The Governor, of course, and then his son. I knew his son, Peter Wilson. I had a lot to do with him. During my time, I entertained in this Shire, at different occasions seven different Governors of Queensland. All through that period of time and I think it was seven. (dw- I understand Harold McMillan, as well?) Yes, I remember I had two Prime Ministers – Malcolm Fraser and his wife, on two occasions and another bloke. (dw- British Prime Minister, Harold McMillan, was he here when – he came here in about 1958?) Yes, I can just remember that (dw- there was a surf carnival?) and also of course, we had one of the members of the Royal Family, up here, I remember that night. I wasn’t the Chairman then, it was prior to my time as Chairman. Harry A… was Chairman, then, if I remember rightly.
DW You had a lot of people that were very interested in the Caloundra region coming here – lots of famous names, Cilento…
JB That other Governor, I have seen his name mentioned recently, lived up here at one time, before Bill Hayden. We’ve had Bill Hayden up here, I’ve met Bill Hayden too. However, I did the right thing by everybody, how I made the time I don’t know.
DW So you enjoyed the period in Local Government Association?
JB Well, I certainly did, because otherwise if you didn’t, you wouldn’t stay in there. I certainly enjoyed my time in Local Government. I’ve still got an interest in Local Government. It’s ten years since I retired, yes ten years since I retired and perhaps a week. After all this time I still keep an interest in it.
DW Can you tell me about other long standing members of the North Coast Local Government Association, during your term?
JB The late Billy Kidd, was one. Eddie De Vere - he’s still alive, up here. He’s not very healthy, but he’s well at the present time.
DW Anything about those two?
JB Of course, Bill Kidd, played a big part in Gympie, through the years, the Widgee Shire, he was around Gympie. Eddie De Vere, in my opinion, did a great job for Maroochy Shire for about thirty years. That’s as a Councillor and as a Chairman, he was there for a long time and then of course, there was Fred Murray. Then up the other way there was Maryborough.
DW What roll was the President of this Associations place, in Queensland’s Local Government structure, at the time. What roll did you take, as far as being President?
JB As I had to carry out an association with the Clerk, it was decided at the meetings and I was responsible to see that it was carried out. John Smith played his part. As far as I’m concerned, John Smith was a first class Shire Clerk. I had a lot to do as I say, for fifteen years, I was on the Executive Local Government and for fifteen years I was on the committee that freed the debt and every problem that local authorities had. Rather a unique experience really when you come down to it, because it didn’t matter what problem the local authority had, my – Fred Rogers, Ted Cormack and I (Fred Rogers died, I can’t think who took his place) but I mean to say we were on. Well I was Deputy Chairmen of Local Government at one stage and I could tell you the truth, sitting in here now. This morning that – I was approached and offered the job on a plate, but because of my wife’s state of health wasn’t good and she had done an awful lot to help me, I felt that I couldn’t take the job because it meant that I had to go to meetings down in New South, and other states. Then I would have to take the Australian job on, and then I would have to tour all over Australia. I just felt that it wasn’t fair to my wife, who had been so good to me all the period of time when my health wasn’t good, so I declined. That’s when a fellow from Mackay got it, was given the job. I haven’t got his name but however, as I say I was offered it by the power brokers.
DW As President, was this a position of importance? President of Queensland Local Government structure?
JB Yes, I think it is. I think it is important because you have to be experienced, you’ve got to be qualified in my opinion, and realistic to the fact that you are representing a vast State with vast interests. The point that I make here before we start talking about this, was the fact that I treated everybody irrespective, similarly,
in regard particularly to the rules and regulations. I didn’t break it for my best friend, or my worst enemy, no comeback on me. That’s the way I’ve always been, but I don’t know that everybody knew that, on the other hand. I believe that (and I made this a practice too) my religion, my politics are my private business - that’s your private business. I don’t believe that I have any right to try to push my beliefs down anyone else, see what I mean and that’s how I treated everybody and that’s how they treated me. I’ve got mates, you want to know the real truth – I was thirty-six years Deputy Chairman, of Landsborough Metro Council, of the National Party, didn’t seek any higher honour than that, see what I mean? I never broadcast that I was in Council, see what I mean? When I didn’t stand and accept the nomination for the top job, I nominated Alec Barr, Alec Barr’s Labour. I knew Alec Barr within the Council, same time as I did at Landsborough, straight as a... . He died of cancer, sadly, at 60, so that’s the way it goes. (dw- he’s a straight man.) True to the - and that’s how he was with me.
DW How did you know they were straight, Jack? How did you know they were straight?
JB Ah, I knew when people were straight, that was part of my gift. I was gifted with the ability to assess people and I believe that was one of the secrets of my success in life.
DW Do you think that came from any of your parents?
JB Yes, my father, I believe. He was not the educated one – could Dad assess people! He could read them. It was amazing to me, how he could do it! But then, of course in the early days, he was a paid - his parents owned a hotel in Gympie, and he was paid to keep law and order, with all those navvies building that railway line. Oh gees, I’m small but he was strong, but of course, they wanted him to take fighting on professionally, but he wouldn’t. He said too many are affected in the head - he was sensible. I’m pleased he didn’t, but anyway, he had unbelievable ability to assess.
DW He was paid there, at the hotel, to keep law and order? So you believe that you got a lot of your philosophy and methods.
JB I think I inherited a lot of that from him, otherwise where did I get it? Anyway, I got it, because I didn’t make many errors.
DW Did your parents live to see you get into Council?
JB Yes, my mother, sadly, died the year that I was elected. She died of cancer, she was seventy-seven.
DW And your Dad?
JB He lived to be eighty-nine.
DW And he saw you become a success, as far as council work?
JB Yes, oh yes.
DW How much of your time, was spent, as President of the North Coast Local Government Association? Did that take up a lot of your time?
JB We had to meet every three months, at different towns within the area, in their term, in the three years. One time it might be Pine Rivers, might be Hervey Bay, could be in Maryborough. (dw- Pomona, places like that?) Yes, right up to Rowena. That’s the furtherest northwest from Maryborough, really, nearly direct.
DW How far south?
JB It might be thirty, forty kilometres, I suppose.
DW How far south did you meet, like on the southside? Did you go into the southside?
JB No, Redcliffe was the furtherest south – Redcliffe and Pine Rivers. I know the Mayor of Pine Rivers, I know her very well, she knows me too. I haven’t been talking to her lately, she’s still the Mayor down there. What’s her name? The Pine Rivers, Mayor? (dw- is that Yvonne Chapman?) Yes, that’s her. She’s been there for quite a while. She went from one game and then into the other and then she’s back in the other.
DW So, she was in Local and then she got into State politics and then has gone back into Local, now.
JB Yes, yes. She is a very sensible person, in my opinion.
DW When you had to do this, you travelled every three months, so that was the only travel you had to do, with this position?
JB Well, unless something cropped up, that was unexpected and that didn’t seem to happen very often, fortunately.
DW Would you travel to these places by train or by car?
JB By car.
DW Did Council have any cars?
JB Yes, but not originally. I mean to say, originally we used my car. Then after that they bought a car and they bought a couple more. I had two, three different cars, during my time.
DW Can you recall what they first purchased?
JB The first one they did up, if I saw it out there now I’d know. It wasn’t a very fast car, it didn’t need to be, it got us to Brisbane and back, safely. I just can’t think of the name of it. (dw- a Holden?) No, it wasn’t a Holden. It was a bigger car, it was made in England or it was made in America.
DW The first car you used was your own car?
JB The first car we had was a Holden, now I come to think of it. The second car was this other one, (dw -so this was the council?). Yes, but I wasn’t driving then, and later they had, and then they had me driving them, of course. I drove for about nine years. I used to leave every morning about half past eight (dw- how long did that take you?). Used to take about an hour and a half, on those early times and an hour and a quarter. If I didn’t get held up on the road, or somebody blocked it with something.
DW I suppose that happened a lot, people would be stopping you.
JB Yes, it did, but really speaking I used to be down here mostly by half past eight. I always reckoned it was important to be here then, to know what was going on.
DW Was there a significant shift in aims in your career as President of the North Coast Local Government Association, from say a rural outlook to a more urbanised outlook?
JB I don’t know that it really worked that way, it just happened that I had a fair bit of my time in many ways in rural – in populated areas and because I was around so much it didn’t seem to make any difference, you know what I mean. I used to be in Brisbane a fair bit, I used to take my father to Brisbane a lot, of course, he used to go to football matches, he didn’t drive. Different other ways I used to go to Brisbane. Before I got into the council I was in the Maleny Area Association and was a Director there. You know with all these other jobs and things it’s amazing how you get around.
Lifelong Community Participation
DW You were involved with many organisations in the community, can you tell me about a few?
JB Well of course, I certainly was involved with a few, in different respects. I suppose, you could say, I was just wondering where I should start. I started off, of course, the first job that I took on was the secretary of that tennis club. (dw – when you were nineteen) It was a long time before I was nineteen (dw – that was fifteen?) Yes, yes. Then, of course, it went from one lead up to another, because possibly one of the great assets that I had was the ability to speak. That was a big help for me and then of course, at that stage everything was going. Something came up at a meeting and I always reckoned that you don’t talk about what you don’t know about! That is the way I operated in that regard. When I was Mayor, of course, I went to a lot of dances and then I suppose I joined a Lodge.
Reminiscing: Early Caloundra and Dances
DW So you actually became, you were involved in the dances as well, on the committees. They were lovely times?
JB Oh of course, they were, I love dancing it was one of my favourite pastimes and like I say, I didn’t have anything in my mouth stronger than a glass of lemonade until I was forty-four years of age! (dw- you never touched alcohol until you were forty-four?) No, then I went with a mate – a couple of mates and his father, fishing, down Wide Bay, in their launch. I drank that much sarsaparilla, he went around all his mates, all hours of the day and night. I thought he would end up getting locked up or both of us locked up! Waking his friends up at all times. I drank sarsaparilla and lemonade and put on a stone of weight for the week. Then I ended up getting sugar so then I, Frank Nicklin used to drink only soft stuff and so did Charlie Adams. Adams was the Federal Member and Nicklin was the State Member, at that stage. Then I would end up getting sugar, so then I used to have a bit of beer and then I drank for awhile. I have been retired now, ten years, a bit over, I’ve only been in a hotel once in ten years! I never was a drinker, never was a smoker. I told you about the one cigarette, didn’t I? I went to Kenilworth, one night, to the pictures. Two or three other young fellows there, "Have a cigarette, hey go on big bloke you’ve gotta". I put the cigarette in my mouth and I had it in my mouth for about five seconds and I said, "Take this B- thing!" and that’s the first and last time there has ever been one in my mouth! (dw That was a wise decision!) That it is the way it went. But I had a lot of fun at the dances.
DW Did you meet your wife at the dances?
JB Actually, speaking that’s a peculiar way that I met my wife, really. Her people bought a property, near where my father was, but she, at that stage was keeping company with a policeman out west - out the central west, I forget the name of the place. But anyway, he dumped her and I think that my sister who hadn’t been real well, got her to come and work for her at Maleny. At that stage I was going with another girl and my sister rang me three times about in a week, if I’d come and take this girl to the dance that night. The dance was in Maleny, see and I said, "Gee, I don’t know I might run into trouble!" She said "I don’t want to lose the girl, she can leave me". I said "perhaps I could do it", so I did, I went and took her to the dance. The first thing I did then, that was Friday night, on the Saturday I sat down and wrote to my girlfriend and told her what I had done. I explained why, anyway she was upset about it and wiped me so that was that. She lived down Caboolture. I sent her a letter. Well, if I don’t send the letter and she hears about it, she’d say he’s not straight. I was straight, alright, so that what happened and anyway, that’s life.
DW That was the first time you took your wife to a dance.
JB We started from there and we finished up and we were engaged for about three years. We didn’t rush into getting married, in fact, I was twenty-seven when I got married, she was twenty-three, I think, no twenty-four. That’s the story of what happened at the dance. I was in Rotary, Maleny for years. When I was in the Chair I went to every function that was on. I didn’t miss one high school speech while I was in Maleny in the twenty-four years that I was in the job, not a bad effort. However, that was that. Down here I was elected or appointed Lion’s Citizen of the Year and then of course, that meant that over the years I was servicing the community.
DW That must have been a thrill.
JB Well, it was really in a way, just as I thought that the only thing - like without a wife that is so good she gets nothing, you know. Something for her, she enjoyed it. She was a very great person at mixing, actually. I never heard one person ever say one word against her actually, not even the lady that was concerned about not getting the Deputy job.
Caloundra Planning 1980s
DW Planning issues were mentioned in the media as affecting the Shire in the 1980s. You were credited with being able to work well with the Queensland Government. Did any decisions made by the Queensland Government, at that time, affect the process of Local Government in Caloundra?
JB Yes, there is no doubt about that. Let’s say I told you and I mean it, it’s a fact, I was highly regarded, by most people associated fortunately, with me, irrespective of what their politics were. For instance, you can take this racetrack out here, I’m not a racing man, but you see, I said to myself and to others, who were talking about putting a bit of a track out there at Mooloolah, for a bit of a pony club. So, I was fairly friendly with the late Bevan Henzell, who was Roy’s father. He was a very good councillor, too, Bevan. Sadly, people thought he had inside knowledge and his wife said, "Bev, you’ll have to give it away". She was concerned that it would have wrecked their business. Well, that’s the sad part of it, because I can truthfully say that you’d never meet a fairer man than what he was, on this council. However, I said to him, of course, he follows racehorses and Roy had a racehorse or too maybe, a racetrack would be a great thing for Caloundra. A lot of people don’t believe in racing, but I said, there is a section of the community who do. I played a major part in getting that Civic Centre. John Smith gave me a lot of help and then it took me a little while and eventually I got support from Council. For a start I didn’t get it, but I got support later and that’s why it is there. Then, like I told you, I believe that if we provide the facilities, not expensive, for young people, children – school leavers and those stills around school. To keep them out of mischief that’s the best thing that we can do and that’s the way we operate. For that reason, I got a lot of satisfaction. That swimming pool around at Kings Beach, the swimming pool over here – I played a major role in all of those.
DW With you working with the Queensland Government, what was the decision made – you were saying before that – when the water came over at Kawana when the cyclone was coming. Do you believe that decisions made by the Queensland Government affected this process of Local Government in Caloundra? Did they have a big part to play?
JB Then in regards to the – for instance out here- two members of, prominent members of, the Bjelke Peterson Government said to me, Jack, they said Coolum up here, they are ahead of you. They said, you have been very straight and honest and you’ve done a great job for everyone in the state, we’re going to give you the track out here (the racetrack) – and that’s how we got it. Now if I hadn’t been friendly with those blokes, we wouldn’t have had that track. It would have been up the other way. This is how it goes. I got every little bit I was entitled to have, without going overboard.
DW Who would have been the Minister then? Would that have been Russ Hinze?
JB Russ Hinze was the bloke and of course, I knew Joh Bjelke-Petersen well. I knew him from the time he got into Parliament.
DW Do you still see him at all?
JB Sadly, I don’t, I’ve been going to write to him and I haven’t done it. As far as I’m concerned, Petersen was a great politician. I didn’t agree with one or two things that he did, but the fact of the matter is, in the main, he wouldn’t have agreed with, perhaps, a couple of things that I did. But it doesn’t alter the fact that he had one fault, he trusted everything and that’s something you can’t do, you see what I mean. That brought about his downfall and I know all about that, because I was on the inside as well as the outside, but I won’t talk about that. But I mean to say is – Joh Petersen did a great job for Queensland. I don’t care whether your Labor, Democrat or Asian, or what you are. As far as I’m concerned he did a hell of a good job for Queensland! I’m thankful for it!
DW You believe that period of time, they supported you?
JB Without a doubt! I mean to say, like with the racetrack, they could say who they like, but I know how I got that, so does Bjelke Petersen, he knows. Russ Hinze – I did a couple of good jobs for Russ Hinze see what I mean. I was entitled to them – and this is how I came to get paid back in return.
DW The roads, he was the Minister for Roads.
JB It was the same thing, you see, it was the same thing. We got everything we were entitled to, in every respect.
DW And that helped Caloundra a great deal?
JB Without a shadow of a doubt.
DW You would have started at that really big influx in the 60s in tourism.
JB It was a tremendous help to Caloundra.
DW Did you commute daily, like every day, from your home up there or did you end up having a place down here, as well? When the times came, I mean, in the 60s things started to really move. Did you commute every day, down here, when you became the Chair?
JB For about five years I had a house down here, at Mayes Estate and we stayed here through the week. I stayed if I had a function on Saturday night. If I had nothing on Saturday, I would go home, come back Monday morning. That’s the way it was for five years, prior to that and after that, I did it each day. Some nights one o’clock in the morning.
DW Then get up next morning and come back down early.
JB I would get home from Des Dwyer’s after a life saving function over at his home, my wife and I and then we left. We were gone about one o’clock, back out there and then back down here, not here, but over there at half past eight, again.
Leaving a mark on the community: Caloundra Library
DW You’ve left your mark in the town of Caloundra, for example, the library’s named after you. Does this give you a sense of pride that you are remembered within a cultural background?
JB Well, it does because, once again it’s just another example of the effort I put into getting it. For that reason it was nice to know that people appreciated me by doing it in that manner. So, yes, I appreciated it and also I’m very pleased with the manner in which Dawn and Louise, particularly and others. It’s all very well but if the bloke at the top is not doing it right, it doesn’t matter how good you do down below. Dawn and Louise, (dw-Dawn’s been there a long time), they’ve done a great job over there, as far as I’m concerned and I appreciate that, (dw- nice people with it!), oh yes, without a shadow of a doubt. They’ve got a good library up at Maleny, now, I only hope that they and I don’t doubt that, they get into it, because, down here I knew so many aged people. Even when I was here, we had about 26% of the population, pensioners and aged people who like to read, well most do, if their eyesight is O.K. This library is used more than any library in Queensland, pro-rata. Which speaks well for Caloundra, good healthy place to live, good place to read.
Caloundra Civic Cultural Centre official opening ceremony.
DW You were a supporter of the library, have you seen the recreational focus of our community, change, shift over the years.
JB Well, I think I have, it’s very hard to describe. But I really believe that as a result of it, there is a change in the atmosphere, if you like to put it that way. The civic culture of the area. I reckon it has changed as a result, of that library going in. I honestly reckon that!
DW Do you think that the Librarians have a lot to do with that?
JB I do, I do. As far as I’m concerned, by gee, she did a good job up there chairing that function the other day, while I was there at Maleny. She did a first class job, but she’s done a jolly good job. That Louise, don’t underestimate her, by cripes, she’s good.
Announcing retirement from Local Government 1988
DW That speaks well for them on tape, too. In November, 1987, you announced that you would not stand again at the next election, on 19th March, 1988. Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Russ Hinze, Minister for Local Government, Mike Ahern, Member for Landsborough and approximately 140 guests all gave you a standing ovation after this speech. The guests and members of State Government had gathered to acknowledge your 32 years of service with this Shire. What were your feelings, once the announcement was made?
JB The announcement in relation well that would be, there or the fact that I was leaving?
DW That you were finishing.
JB Well, as a matter of fact, it leaves a kind of a hollow feeling, but I did think seriously of leaving three years previously. Because of one Councillor, who was a fine experienced Councillor – begged me not to leave. I wouldn’t like to have to put into words just what he said really, but he just felt that it was not in the interests of the Shire for me to leave and he begged me to stay. Well, I stayed another three years. I believe that, in fact, the time had come when perhaps the people would like a change. I had been here a long time. I had five terms unopposed and that’s not a bad effort. You are either performing or they don’t put you back without putting somebody up against you, do you see? So fair enough, I just felt the time had come. Well, never the less, however, that’s ten years ago. I certainly could have carried on quite a deal longer but no doubt about it, I just felt that the people might have liked a change.
DW Did you have any regrets?
JB No, I’ve had no regrets really, because of the fact that the people have treated me so well, you know, the different people. I mean, blimey, I needed to be living down here really and I suppose that’s the sad part of it in a way, I had a great wife and when I lost her I just felt that the bottom had fallen out of my boat. I eventually gave my house away. If I told you what I sold my house for, you would just say you must have a lapse in the brain box. Fair enough, I did. You see if I had that house down here, now, I could go to these functions. I was the patron of Choral, for years, helped them build it from the beginning. All these other organisations and then the night of my wife and my finishing up – not only did we have the Premier of the State here, but we also had Judy Durham, (dw from the Seekers?) and as far as I’m concerned I’ve had the privilege of hearing the great singers of the past and I love the singing. I think that she is my pick- vocalist. I have heard Nellie Melba and all the others down the line and I’ve appreciated them all. On the men side, I like a good man singer, Nelson Eddie, Richard Crook, Richard Town. I know them all. However, I’ll have to try and get here. Judy Durham from the Seekers is coming here at the end of the month. I’ll have to get over there and get a ticket.
DW Would you do it all again?
JB I suppose it’s a difficult question really to answer. I suppose I would and yet when I look over all that I have done and where I’ve been, I don’t know how the ‘dickens’ I was able to do it. How the ‘dickens’ I could do it all! I’ve been to Mt Isa twice, for conferences. I only missed one conference in thirty-three years and that one was at Townsville.
Attributes of Local Government Service and Achievement
DW After thirty-three years in Local Government you retired in March 1988. More than an hour of attributes poured in that final Caloundra City Council meeting before the next election. You were accredited in your time, in Local Government, with water supply to Caloundra, in 1964, sewerage to Caloundra and Kawana, later to the railway towns. New Council Chambers and the movement of the centre of Local Government from Landsborough to Caloundra, augmentation of the Caloundra Water Supply Treatment Plant, the controversial name change from Landsborough Shire to Caloundra City, the Civic Cultural Centre, Corbould Park and ocean outfall at Kawana. Would you like to give me a few sentences on each of those? The water supply to Caloundra in 1964?
JB Yes, we had to put up a great battle to get it here, too. The opposition, it’s difficult to understand or explain why people would be so opposed, but however, we believed that it was absolutely essential. Caloundra had to have water. That’s essential, I don’t care, water today is one of the big issues in regard to the future of this country. We’re going to outdo our availability of fresh water, if we are not careful. I believe that it can be handled, but it needs to be in the right way.
DW Actually, a lot of folks in the community didn’t want the water?
JB Not only that, we had to withstand, if memory serves me correctly, we had to withstand a poll at that stage, before we put it in. That was time that a certain number of good people could object. They could demand and poll when you borrow the money, before you have spent it.
DW So you had to have an election in order to get the water on?
JB Well, if memory serves me correctly, I’m nearly sure (and Mrs Carmel Barr will tell you that) she’s mighty, she’s retired – you know Carmel.
DW Sewerage to Caloundra and Kawana and later to the railway towns?
JB Yes, well that was something else that had to be and it seemed sorry but sadly, we couldn’t get Landsborough in when we wanted to get it in. Landsborough should have been sewered years ago. You can’t have big population without sewerage and proper drainage and it’s all got to be done properly. Health wise, health is important. It’s like money, more important. If you haven’t got your health doesn’t matter how much money you have got.
DW The new Council Chambers and the movement of the centre of Local Government from Landsborough to Caloundra.
JB That was done on a vote of 9 to 4, but once again, at that stage, there was no way that we could afford to go building great large sums – costly buildings at Landsborough when Caloundra was the developing area. I believe that I’ve still got no qualms about what we did, I believe it was the right decision that we made and we made it by nine votes to four.
DW Augmentation of the Caloundra water supply treatment plant.
JB Well of course once again that was essential and possibly this is something that will have to be looked at and dealt with and prepared for the future too. Matter of fact one of these days I might even have a bit of a talk to some of the people down here in relation to this because as one that has been around an awful long time and the people are aware of where the water comes from and where it can be delivered from and with the population growing like it is and its going to continue to grow because it’s a growing area to live in. That’s obvious because years ago, I’ll bet it would be 25 years might be longer, when a policeman in this town decided to put his toe on me but that day he’d transferred over a thousand live licences from Victoria to Dicky Beach. Gives an indication of how people come from the south to here. I can tell you more about this from the days of old but it takes too much time.
DW Tell me about the days from what?
JB When my brother and I used to come up here, you know. They told me, I used to work in by the annual, by Jove’s, we’re thinking we might buy a block of land while we’re here. Think it’d be good to come back here to live. Big time decision. They’ve bought the block of land and they’ve come back up here. It’s unbelievable. Seeing is believing. Seeing’s believing they reckon.
DW The controversial name change from Landsborough Shire to Caloundra City.
JB Well, of course I made no secret of that. I was meant to have had assistance in the right places. The reason I did it on behalf of the council and in association with the Council members was because I had learned through my experience on the executive that the cities and towns were getting more Federal aid money handed to them, free money in other words, than what we were getting as Shires. Hence I felt that we were growing, we could make the change and fit the need.
DW Well, you’ve made the right change obviously. Now the population centre.
JB I got no qualms, I never did.
DW The Civic Cultural Centre.
JB Well, the Civic Cultural Centre for anyone that lived in Caloundra. And attend the functions in Caloundra like I did in the old School of Arts. When four of us Councillor’s were there one night listening to a pre-election meeting and we couldn’t hear what was being said and we were sitting not far from the front from the stage and we couldn’t hear. And with an area growing like Caloundra it was obvious to me that we had to think a little bit bigger than little lines in a schoolhouse. And I felt that it was absolutely essential, without that City Centre built there, and I’m more convinced than ever. And I’ve never been any other way. Fortunately I had some supporters and they were convinced at the start. John Smith, I’ll say this, never faltered. He was wise enough for him to see the need. And I’ve a high regard for John Smith.
DW I’m going to interview him one day.
JB Yes, well I can assure you that, that John Smith, there’s not a straighter man on this earth than John Smith.
DW We spoke about Corbould Park before so that you were credited with that. The ocean outfall at Kawana?
JB Well the ocean outfall was essential because that had to be done. In an area like Kawana they’ve got to be drained. And these are the issues that, when your in council, and your experienced and around over Queensland like I was on many occasions for many different things. Problems in relation to improving the areas.
DW Thought we’d have a break for a while, have a stretch. Do you want a stretch? Do you want me to turn this off for a minute and we’ll have a stretch? We could do that if you want.
JB I think we can manage.
Kawana Development 1980s
DW Alright. I’ll just see how we’re going. You saw a huge growth in the Kawana region in the nineteen eighties. Was Caloundra bypass the most significant roadway during your term that you were instrumental in achieving?
JB Yeah, well you will understand that, that as an area is developing like Kawana we also had to have access. And the road was absolutely essential. But when I of course, in our day, when we first went up there in the old army vehicle to inspect the area. You’d wonder how anybody would ever be able to live there. Because it was low it was wet.
DW You went out there in an army vehicle. A council owned vehicle?
JB Yes, a council owned army vehicle. And we were shook to bits all over the county. We came back when the tide was running in, we had to plot the coarse of the ocean side or the front. And we couldn’t get the bus to start, or they couldn’t, anyway fortunately what appeared to be a big pothole was an illusion. We got back. You wonder how ever the place could be developed like its been developed but there it is. And as a result of the effort, model glue and a lot of good building and planning and such like. We’ve got a very large city with Kawana and surrounds.
DW Nicklin Way was constructed whilst you were in office. It has been reported that due to your influence it was gazetted as a main road, which was a great saving for the Shire. Can you tell me some details about this?
JB Nicklin Way. Nicklin Way. Yes, well as you realise of course that’s was a part of my continuing job to keep improving the access within the Shire and I’ll say this in fairness to my Councillor’s and my Clerks and particularly the Shire Clerks, I believe we did it to the best of our ability. As a result of that, our efforts were also appreciated by the respect of people and the heads of government departments. And that was a big asset to us as a council and to the district in general.
DW And the Caloundra Bypass, I suppose that’s the same as well?
JB Definitely, so yes.
DW What do you see as your greatest achievement in office?
JB That’s a very difficult question because I believe that there were quite a few very important successes on behalf of the local authorities and on behalf of the citizens living in it. And to pick them out, it’s very difficult. There are many that, sort of combine to support one another in their way. And I suppose the improved road system would have to play a bit higher of course. But then all the other amenities such as swimming pools and race club, civic centre and improvement to the beaches and the improvement to the roads. And another big improvement of course in the time I was in was the Landsborough main road. That was a shocker of a road however eventually I managed to, with the assistance of the headquarters (a little bit behind us there too just quietly), but anyway all in all it all goes to our better course, better facilities for rate payers who went and paid their rates. But the other thing is during the great part of my time in office my Councillors and I tried very hard to get back value for money with everything we did whereby we could be able to keep the rates down for our rate payers. Because we knew full well that even up to the time I left it was still twenty six percent of residents were pensioners in this area. And after all, what’s the good of having people here if you put the rates up and send them away. Now we’re bringing them here. So for that reason we tried our hardest and perhaps. I just wonder today, and my usual word wonder, without being in the know that they would be in the office of the Shire to know, whether or not we are becoming a little bit inclined to over spend. I just wonder. I must say I don’t know if it’s so but a lot of people are asking that question that have had experience in many fields of financial operations.
DW You were quoted with having a vision for the direction of the Shire. Can you tell me what your vision was?
JB Well I believe that was a gift. As I mentioned previously, I believe that in my case there was a little bit of a gift. You see, after all I suppose when we’re born, when we’re balanced up, some were born with a good head of hair, some with a bald head, some with this and some good looking and some plain. I suppose this is about how it goes, but yes, I don’t deny that was one of my secrets of success in life was the vision that I had in relation to estimating what would be needed and what would be in the best interest of the area in the days that lie ahead.
DW Did you imagine what could lie ahead for Caloundra? Like for this Shire, Landsborough?
JB Well, I did in many respects to be truthful. But you see you learn that from getting around the various parts of the country. Fair enough like I say I was over a lot of Queensland in my time and I’ve flown over a lot of New South Wales and that too. I’ve never driven in New South Wales I’ve always flown. But I really believe that its something that comes natural to you. It’s very hard to describe the vision.
DW Do you believe that you have fulfilled it during your time in Caloundra? In the council?
JB I wouldn’t say, and I wouldn’t be foolish enough to say that I believe that I have achieved everything that I should have achieved but I am satisfied to be able to say that I was successful in quite a large number.
DW Do you believe that Landsborough Shire and later Caloundra City Council was advantaged by your commitment to keep the rates low within the shire?
JB Yes, I believe in all due respect, common sense needs to prevail in regards to rates structure. After all you can go too fast, you can go to slow but if you go too fast and keep things up too high sometimes you can undo what you were virtually planning to do. And for that reason I believe that the rates have got to be kept on an even keel and not too high a percentage each year if it can be avoided. There are times, I’ll admit that you’ve got to do a major construction job such as perhaps the sewerage of Landsborough or maybe a construction of that nature. Well then it can be instrumental in increasing rates.
DW You gave advise to councillors to remember that council handles other people’s money and to get the best value for money for rate payers. Do you think this philosophy contributed to your successful years in Local Government? In other words you were handling other peoples money.