10 May 2023

Sailing into retirement: council chief executive finishes up

| Cape York Weekly
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COOK Shire Council chief executive officer Linda Cardew has retired after four years at the helm of the largest local government area in Queensland, handing over the reins last week.

Cook Shire mayor Peter Scott said Ms Cardew’s operational leadership was exemplary.

“I consider Linda to be the most effective and capable CEO to hold office at Cook Shire,” he said.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have had the benefit of her tenure here.”

Famously small in stature but fearless in leadership, Ms Cardew and husband Tony made Cooktown their home, throwing themselves into work and play with equal enthusiasm.

The couple featured in many community events around the Shire, including the annual Cooktown Discovery Festival re-enactment and grand parade, balls and race days.

Ms Cardew said she considered the close friendships and improved Indigenous relationships she built during her tenure as among her most important achievements.

“Being able to lead council to a more understanding place in terms of Indigenous issues and Bama relationships has been a very important thing for me,” she said.

“Our end of year financial figures also look fantastic, and it gives me a great deal of personal satisfaction to leave the council in much better shape than when I arrived.”

Not one to put her feet up, Ms Cardew gave herself two days off work to put final touches on her yacht, the Paroo, before sailing out of the Endeavour River.

The couple are planning a five-year sail around the world, heading across the Indian Ocean to the Seychelles, around South Africa, past the Azores and into the Mediterranean, across the North Atlantic, across the Pacific and back to Cooktown.

“Tony and I are absolutely best mates, and to finally achieve something we have dreamed about for years is amazing,” she said.

“Hopefully the housing estate will be developed and the aged care facility will be well under way by the time we come back.”

After a long and varied career, including 25 years in local government, across five different councils, and two stints as a council CEO, Ms Cardew admitted she didn’t know how retirement would suit her.

“I will absolutely miss working full time after being deeply involved in policy and management for the past 30 years, but Tony and I aren’t getting any younger and having three beautiful adult children and careers behind us, the time has come,” she said.

“I think I will no doubt look for a side hustle of some kind!”

She offered her heartfelt thanks to her colleagues at Cook Shire Council, both past and present.

“I would really like to thank the team at Cook,” she said.

“The council has got some extraordinary staff who are deeply committed to the betterment of the community.

“For a remote council, it is very progressive and recognised, and in south-east Queensland, Cook has a voice now.”

Cook Shire’s new CEO Brian Joiner will take over from acting chief executive Heather Kelly on August 22.

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