His father’s vocational life as a journeyman with the water resources commission helped Peter Bennett commit to settle in the central north west Queensland town of Richmond. 

18 years later with one foot in both the young man-middle age demographic and Peter has settled into his role as Chief Executive Officer for the Richmond Shire Council. 

Photo: Peter and Carissa Bennett

Peter went to university and graduated with a degree in accounting and IT and followed his father to Diamantina Shire who had a job as the payroll clerk. 

It was a fateful road to Richmond he said. 

“After spending 18 months in the Diamantina Shire, I realised I was missing the social aspect of mingling with people my own age and decided it was time for a change. 

“There was a finance officer role available in Richmond which I applied for and three weeks later I moved to Richmond” he said. “I started in Richmond in 2005.” 

“Then I said to myself, well, it’s a lovely place. I’ve got good friends here. I’ll do two years and go back to the coast where I’ve got other friends. 

“And I just learned to love it. Like, I came in here and I was welcomed to the community. 

“Mondays was darts nights, Tuesday was tennis, Wednesday was water polo. Thursday was volleyball. Friday nights, everyone goes to the pub. Saturdays was bowls, Sundays was golf. 

“I had activity and then there was always other people. I was in with the teachers and the nurses and having a great time.” 

Climbing the ladder

Career opportunities at the council then presented themselves. 

Peter was offered the manager of finance administration roles which brought with it the opportunity to complete a tenure needed to qualify for the role as Director. 

His council employers backed Peter for an extended period while being treated for cancer for which time he stayed in Richmond. 

It was around that time Mr Bennett’s fortunes changed as he met his partner Carissa and was offered the role as Council CEO. 

“That was over 10 years ago now. Carissa’s parents own a cattle farm, 67km south of Richmond. 

“They’re not going anywhere and she’s not going anywhere. It’s a family business. And that suits me and, and I still love Richmond anyway, I’ve still got friends here. They promoted me to CEO and I’ve been doing that gig now for over eight years. 

“We’ve been trying to develop Richmond into a place where it’s really good for young families. Our average age has dropped five years. Now we’ve got an average age of 32 for Richmond”. 

“We’ve got about 160 kids from year-six downwards. So we just got lots of little fellas running around here. We try and make a family-friendly place, which is good.” 

In that time under the council’s watch, Richmond was awarded the best tasting water in Queensland and New South Wales, they have a football field which hosts state league matches among others. 

Their next mission is to grow the community large enough to support a high school which would help grow the community, Mr Bennett said. 

“As soon as you send kids away (to boarding school), generally, it’s hard to get them back and we’re trying to fill that gap, but to fill that gap, we need things like Vanadium to come along. 

“We’ve got a long-term plan that we’re trying to stick to and I’ve got a very progressive council that’s involved in that. 

“I’m not looking to leave Richmond anytime soon. It’s just one of those places that I’m very fortunate to have landed here.”