Cr. Jenny Hill, Australian Mayor of Townsville, Queensland, Australia, and local government officials of Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand
Cr. Jenny Hill, Australian Mayor of Townsville, Queensland, shared her perspective on the management of the city Townsville with local government officials of Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand in the talk “what is the future of smart local and urban prosperity?” organized as part of Walailak Research Convention 2022 by Center of Excellence for Local and City Governance, Walailak University, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the university’s founding. The mayor in her talk emphasized the importance of the local government as a unit functioning in close proximity to the livelihood of the people, in providing and managing fundamental needs as well as addressing contextual challenges the city faces.
According to Cr. Hill, the city of Townhill, an unofficial capital city of Queensland, officially founded in 1866, has been operating under a three-level-government system comprising the Federal government, being the central unit of the governance entity, followed by the State Government and Local Government. Among the three, local government, running only on three percent of taxation venue, is said to be an agent most connected to the community: attending to the city’s needs regarding infrastructure and public services. Divided into ten divisions to ensure equal representation across the city, the local government was driven by a council led by the mayor. The council is made up of six standing committees overseeing the running of six specific areas, namely Community and Cultural Development, Community Health, Safety and Environmental Sustainability, Business Services and Finance, Infrastructure Services, Planning and Development, Water Resources and Waste. There is also an advisory committee joined by Townsville community members so that the city’s operation ensures community engagement and a sense of collective accountability. Cr. Hill shard further the city’s plunge into and recovery from the two most catastrophic events – economic collapse caused by Queensland’s Nickel Refinery shutdown leaving 800 residents jobless, and massive flood and drought.
“We experienced a recession which took many years to recover. Our local economy is reinstated but we will not cease to develop. We cannot afford to allow such impact to happen again,” said Cr. Hill.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Surin Maisrikrod, Vice-President for Foreign Affairs and Learning and Teaching Development
Moderated by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Surin Maisrikrod, Vice-President for Foreign Affairs and Learning and Teaching Development, representatives of local government units in Thasala district and those located nearby including a Deputy chairman of Subdistrict Administration Organization (SAO), member of the SAO, Head of health volunteers, and health of villages, the session witnessed enthusiastic QA session in which the local government officials and representatives took turn asking Cr. Hill questions pertaining to Townsville’s local government’s role in supplying the community with infrastructure and public services such as waste management, social issue intervention, the government’s funded traineeship to promote community member employment, the city’s measure to tackle the pandemic’s spread, tax collection system, and many others.
Considering a strong resemblance between the Thasala district and Townsville as reflected by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Surin, having resided and pursued his teaching career at James Cook University for over two decades, “a life in Thasala reminds me of Townsville where I used to live and work as a university professor. These two cities have many things in common ranging from similar geographically defining features: being a coastal city and a residential university. Even though we are characterized by different languages and cultures, these are things keeping us identical.”
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sanhawat Chaiwong, Director of Center of Excellence for Local and City Governance
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Surin accompanied by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sanhawat Chaiwong, Director of Center of Excellence for Local and City Governance. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Surin reiterated the importance of collaboration between the local university and its community, the vision emphasized by Prof.Dr.Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, President of Walailak University.
“Prof. Sombat believes in the collaboration with these two parties since our ultimate goal remains just that. Regardless of differences in the national political climate, local government is most intertwined with the lives of the people in all dimensions and the university be the mainstay supplying the community with the knowledge it needs,” said Assoc. Prof. Dr. Surin.
Walailak University is planning on sponsoring a visit of Nakhon Si Thammarat’s local government representatives under an invitation from the mayor herself in order to gain hands-on insight into Townsville’s city administration.
News by Nootchanat Sukkaew
Division of Corporate Communication