New Gympie CEO is heading into the job with his 'eyes open’

37-year council veteran steps into Gympie's top job: New CEO Shane Gray opens up on his first impressions of the region
37-year council veteran steps into Gympie's top job: New CEO Shane Gray opens up on his first impressions of the region

GYMPIE Council's new CEO is headed into the job with "eyes open" as the organisation grapples with the fallout from the pandemic and ongoing financial issues.

The 37-year local government veteran hedged on speaking in depth about any of the hottest topics, but already has one goal in mind when he takes up the seat on Monday morning.

"It's too early without having the full array of what it's all about," Shane Gray said.

"I do know there's budget pressures … my number one priority is to get in and get a full understanding of where we're at."

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Mayor Glen Hartwig and new CEO Shane Gray.
Mayor Glen Hartwig and new CEO Shane Gray.

Mr Gray, who was appointed by councillors yesterday, has spent his career in and around councils.

His previous jobs included time at the top of the Nanango and South Burnett councils.

And he is already on his way to grasping the state of Gympie.

"I did dial in and have a look at the livestreaming," he said.

"I obviously wouldn't have applied for the job without doing some research, looking at the council's track record and history."

"I come in with eyes open, however there will be time to work through that."

He was a fan of the council's steps towards transparency like the livestreaming of meetings.

"I commend it, I think it's great the council's communicating, talking well," Mr Gray said.

Mr Gray says the council’s new livestreaming of meetings is a good step towards greater transparency.
Mr Gray says the council’s new livestreaming of meetings is a good step towards greater transparency.

"The community can dial in and actually get a grasp and confidence in their councillors.

"There's some open, accountable discussions. I think that's a step forward."

Mr Gray may have spent three dozen years working with local governments, but he said there was more to his life.

He called his interests "broad".

"I love my sport, love community activities, like my fishing and like my golf," Mr Gray said.

"I like being involved in a lot of things."

And as it turns out, golf was how he came to a career in public service.

"I originally thought I'd do something different," he said.

He says council’s are doing lots more than rates, roads and rubbish now, which opened up opportunities as long as they were “within our means as well”.
He says council’s are doing lots more than rates, roads and rubbish now, which opened up opportunities as long as they were “within our means as well”.

"I was playing golf with a shire clerk and deputy shire clerk, and the said there was a job going at the council.

"I had my (first) interview on the golf course.

"They said come back and play again with them; so I did.

"I had my second interview on that Sunday.

"They brought me in the Monday morning … they interviewed three or four people for admin roles.

"I've been there ever since," he said, working up from administration to finance and then to leadership roles.

Golf is one of a ‘broad’ number of Mr Gray’s interests – and was, in fact, a key part of how he started in local government.
Golf is one of a ‘broad’ number of Mr Gray’s interests – and was, in fact, a key part of how he started in local government.

But even with changes there has always been one consistent thread.

"Local government to me has always been part of the community," he said.

"We've probably changed over the years but it's always the people's level of government … the first point of call.

"Councils are doing a lot more than they used to.

"In the early days it was rates, roads and rubbish.

"In that there is opportunity, but it is also important being aware of what's within our means as well."

Mr Gray said the region had a swathe of diversity waiting to be tapped into, like Tin Can Bay and Rainbow Beach.

Mr Gray says places like Tin Can Bay are among the region’s best assets.
Mr Gray says places like Tin Can Bay are among the region’s best assets.

Now it was about showcasing it all, he said.

"The difference is locals know what we've got; the challenge is that for people that live outside the region, unless it's advertised or seen, sometimes you will miss it driving up the Bruce Highway," Mr Gray said.

"Because the tourism market now is not going to be overseas, it's a great opportunity for people to explore their neighbourhood"

Mr Gray is planning to explore the region himself.

"I live here as of Monday," he said.