Mr HAMILTON (Groom) (13:30): I’d like to take the opportunity to put on record my gratitude to and respect for the recently retired mayor of the Toowoomba regional council, Mr Paul Antonio. There’s a special place in Australian politics for a regional mayor, a mayor of places that have a sense of identity that you don’t find in the suburbs of the capital cities. There, the mayor is more than an administrator, a figurehead and a manager; the mayor is something of a shepherd, a steward and a stalwart of the city; someone who can keep their community’s place at the table, no matter who’s in government; someone who can work with anyone, and yet still clearly be of their people.
For over four decades in local government, firstly with Milmerran Shire Council and later with TRC, Paul walked that line with distinction. He oversaw major projects, like the second range crossing and Inland Rail, being won for our region. He showed a deep understanding of the need for immigration in our local economy by making Toowoomba a Refugee Welcome Zone. As deputy chair of the South-East Queensland Council of Mayors, he pushed for the then South-East Queensland Olympic bid, when neither state nor federal government would. There would be no Brisbane 2032 without Paul Antonio.
I’m proud to have worked with him, but I’m more proud to call him a friend. I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the many kindnesses he showed, particularly to my wife, Louise, when the realities of public life broke loose on our unready household. As he did for every citizen of his patch, he took every care that he could.
He’s returned from public life as he began: a humble farmer from Milmerran, with a fair bit of go about him. Thank you, Paul.