Opportunity. As the matter-of-fact meerkat Timon from The Lion King once learnt: look beyond what you see.
This is the motto new Circular Head Council general manager Scott Riley lives by.
Transitioning from a planning, environment and community services director role with Isaac Regional Council in Queensland, he and wife Jenny moved to Smithton late last month.
Holding the role for more than 10 years, Mr Riley experienced the amalgamation of the shires of Belyando, Broadsound and Nebo to form the Isaac Region in 2008.
The council, located in central Queensland, now covers an area of approximately 58,000 square kilometres with a permanent population of around 25,000 as well as a further 10,000 fly in, fly out residents. The municipality is approximately 3000 square kilometres smaller than the state of Tasmania.
Predominantly a coal mining industry, the region produces 47 per cent of the resource in the state and generates more than $1 billion in royalties each year. The region also produces a rich agricultural industry including beef and sugar cane as well as aquaculture industries on the coast.
“The new challenge is bringing together all of the things I have done in the past but also connecting with things that I am familiar with,” Mr Riley says of his new role.
Growing up in Kyogle, New South Wales, he is the fourth generation of devon cattle breeders.
“I have very strong interests in relation to sustainable agribusiness and the future of vibrant regional communities.
“I come from a longterm Northern Rivers farming family, we have been there for many generations and are able to say we are managing the environment better; we have twice as many trees but we are twice as productive.”
He looks forward to meeting with local farmers and business owners who are incorporating sustainable practices into their own operations.
“One of the things that attracted me to this locality is that you produce a milk product. What is the innovation in that product now? What’s the next step we need to take to value add further?”
He is also familiar with the forestry industry from his time in Kyogle.
“I know those industries and I’m really looking forward to getting to know the people who are in those important roles and asking those questions: Can we be more productive? What can we do to help? How can we grow the community? How can we set up opportunities for the younger generation so that our population starts to grow a little bit, with good jobs for our local families?
“I’m looking for opportunities to essentially have positive conversations about building and reinforcing the resilience that is already in the community here and taking that forward . . . getting people to aspire to take the next step.”
Describing himself as a glass half full person, Mr Riley says opportunities in Circular Head are endless and the region is well positioned to lead innovative industries.
“The thing I have always seen with local businesses [is] the smaller ones have the adaptive capacity to [be] highly innovative, they are adaptable.
“That’s where I am interested in starting some conversations, as local government what do we need to do in the space to have the services, infrastructure and planning scheme right so an industry can grow and develop providing positive opportunities for the community as a whole.
“When there is a conversation happening that’s when inspiration comes.”
With over 10 years in the building trade, he went on to become a health and building surveyor before progressing into local government in 1990 with Port Stephens Council in New South Wales.
He has qualifications in Health and Building Surveying, Work Place Health and Safety, Local Government Law and Planning and is currently working towards a Master of Business Administration.
He is also a registered beekeeper and has interests in photography, fishing, sport and scouts.
“I am a lifelong learner. I have always had an enquiring mind and wanted to learn.”