AFTER celebrating another great Winton Festival, the tiny hamlet has gone into mourning with the loss of several prominent local identities in a very short period.
Mayor Butch Lenton, whose actual name I’ve only just discovered is Graham, passed away after a long battle with cancer. Born and bred in Winton, he lived in the town his whole life, raised his family and built up his business at Central Motors.
Butch was a rare breed. He lived his life in the service of others. Never seeking fame or fortune, he would tirelessly plug away at issues important to his community.
His work with local football, 22 years as president of the Diamantina Devils and also a spell as president of the Central West Rugby League, is a testament to his love of the game, his local team and his town.
Butch led the community as mayor of the local council. Many projects currently in the pipeline owe their existence to Butch’s pro-active campaigning and unshakeable belief in the people of Winton.
The geothermal power project, the Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival, the growing film industry in Winton, the building of the Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum and the rebuilding of the Waltzing Matilda Centre just some of the many things that Butch has been involved with or lent his support to over the years.
I consider myself fortunate to have met a man like Butch and to have represented him in the Parliament as his local member. Butch was always keen to discuss new ways to build jobs, infrastructure and industries in rural areas.
His constant flow of ideas and advice will be sorely missed.
Winton is also in shock after the sudden death of Alan “Buddo” Grant. Buddo built up his business, Grant’s Livestock Transport from nothing to become a major employer in the region. Buddo was integral to the building of the Winton Motorsport Association’s eighth mile drag strip, which regularly hosts events for keen petrolheads from across the region.
On a more positive note, it seems like our ideas on Blue Cards are finally gaining some traction. This is another example of how laws that work well in major cities can be detrimental in smaller towns, particularly indigenous communities.
In these small communities, where everyone knows everyone else, it’s almost impossible to find a job where a Blue Card isn’t required. While these laws were introduced with the best of intentions, currently some bureaucrat in Brisbane will make the decisions and deny a Blue Card application based on the applicant’s decades old run-in with the law.
Our plan is to allow the community to make these kind of line-ball decisions, rather than a bureaucrat with no knowledge of what is happening on the ground. In many cases, the individual concerned has turned their lives around fully and can be a role model for youth in their community. They can speak with an authority born of experience.
Child safety is paramount and I am confident that local knowledge of the individuals involved will keep our children safe.
The Katter’s Australia Party plan isn’t about watering down safety regulations, it’s ultimately about addressing the issues of youth crime at the source by improving employment opportunities for parents. It’s a proven fact that when mum and dad have a job, rather than relying on welfare, children are less likely to run off the rails and get tangled up in the youth justice system.
I call upon all members of the parliament to let some common sense prevail and allow the local community to decide who works with their children.