IT’s TIME, says TONY our citizen maverick

28 February, 2023

Every so often we’re made stronger by those who step up to the big time for us. One such is Maryborough local and CMRT member, Tony Macer. CMRT folk will probably know Tony as one of our extroverted musicians. On Australia Day, Central Goldfields Shire recognised Tony as its Citizen of the Year. John Carruthers spoke to Tony about how the still waters run deep.

How long have you lived in Maryborough?

We have lived in our ‘only’ home for nearly 40 years now. We raised our children here. They’re wonderful. They all moved away but have returned. So now we are lucky enough to be able to spend lots of time with our six grandchildren. I pinch myself every day!

Do you reckon your Citizen of the Year title will give you a bit more influence down at the Shire chambers?

Ha ha – don’t know about influence, but I have certainly established very positive relationships with councillors and shire staff.

Did your partner Debbie bring you breakfast in bed the next morning? Or business as usual?

I probably should have made breakfast in bed for Debbie! She’s had a lot to put up with, with all my meetings. So many of our holidays recently have been interrupted by Zoom meetings and hunting for good Internet connections!

Did you have to nobble the competition? Who were you up against?

The award wasn’t even on my radar. The night before Australia Day, Debbie had to prompt me to think of something to say in case my name was read out. Honestly, there are so many amazing people out there who deserve this award!

What’s your take on Australia Day?

Let’s change it! Why stick with a date that represents so much pain for our First People? We are the only nation in the world that uses a time that marks the onset of dispossession of indigenous people from their home to celebrate our national day.

What are you most proud of?

Receiving the award was an affirmation that we are on the right track with our shire-wide climate action plan and that we now have significant momentum and community support. I am also proud of the impact the MVRC has already had in promoting and reinvigorating volunteering across the shire.

Tell us more about that.

Climate action is something I’m very passionate about. I ran a climate action rally in January 2020. I was convenor of the Maryborough Climate Action Group. We negotiated a Climate Action Plan that was adopted last year. That led to the Climate Conversation in October across the shire. We got eleven community groups and organisations in “kitchen table conversations”. That’s how stuff gets done; it was huge. We also got people along to Renewable Energy and Home Sustainability Community Forum and two home sustainability workshops. Change is happening.

Anything else that’s happening on the climate front?

We got the Goldfields Renewable Energy Group (GREG) going. It’s looking at possibilities for community renewable energy. We got solar panels put on the Maryborough Community House. We’re about to do the same for the Dunolly Neighbourhood Centre. 

And with volunteers?

MVRC has placed more than 30 volunteers with organisations who had a big need for them in 2022. We’re in the midst of a national volunteering crisis and we’re trying to move the needle. We run information stalls at the shopping centre, in front of supermarkets and at local markets. We’ve got a hard working and energetic committee, and we’ve built links with a large number of volunteer organisations.

How do you want to make a difference in 2023?

We’ve got some clear milestones. We want to get our Climate Action Plan implemented, raise community awareness to reduce emissions, and get solar panels on the Dunolly Neighbourhood Centre. We’ll run community workshops and visits to explore and learn about community renewable energy opportunities. We want everyone in our shire to be in the best spot to take advantage of any government climate initiatives that are sure to arrive. We also want to really rebuild volunteering in the shire.