28 February 2024

WTA candidates make their case for Weipa representation

| Cape York Weekly
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Lisa Scharf says she believes the power of the arts, community engagement and a strong community spirit can help Weipa flourish. Photo: Supplied.

Weipa voters will select their new-look Weipa Town Authority (WTA) leadership team when they head to the polls on 16 March, 2024.

With three long-serving WTA members opting not to seek re-election, six candidates have put their hand up to represent their community and fill the vacancies.

Cape York Weekly caught up with the candidates – Lisa Scharf, Deb Duffy, Scott Hackett, Trent Gordon, Geoff Robbins and Gemma Shaw – to hear in their own words why they were running and what their vision for WTA and the greater Weipa community was.

Jaime Gane will assume the role of chair and replace retiring four-term Chair Michael Rowland after being elected unopposed, while the three remaining spots around the WTA table will be filled by two Rio Tinto-appointed members, and one selected by the Alngith Traditional Owners.


Lisa Scharf’s life is a tapestry of diverse experiences.

Her roles as mother and wife, service in the navy, her time living in various remote communities, and her leadership on many club committees across the country have all uniquely shaped Lisa into a passionate advocate, ready and willing to take on any challenge that comes her way.

For four years, she and her husband have made Weipa their home, fostering a deep and personal investment in the community.

As the owner of Get Your Art On Weipa and president of Weipa Potters, Lisa has fostered community relationships and enhanced cultural appreciation.

Her leadership radiates her passion for the arts and community development, and Lisa is now stepping up to a new challenge by nominating for one of the positions as a Weipa Town Authority member.

Motivated by her dedication to Weipa’s growth and prosperity, Lisa aims to make Weipa an even more liveable town, enhancing community spirit, and to work tirelessly for the people of Weipa.

Her vision for Weipa is a vibrant environment where every resident feels heard, valued, and connected.

She believes in the transformative power of the arts, community engagement, and a strong community spirit to enrich life on multiple levels.

Lisa’s locally-owned business provides her with both the time and flexibility to commit fully to serving Weipa and, as a potential WTA member, Lisa promises to bring dedication, fresh perspectives, and a balanced approach to the role.

Lisa is eager to hear from you and understand your concerns and welcomes comments at https://www.facebook.com/LisaScharfWTAmember and via email [email protected].

READ ALSO Incoming WTA chair puts bullseye on locally-driven Weipa growth

Deb Duffy’s vision for Weipa is a prosperous community not reliant on Rio Tinto for growth. Photo: Supplied.


Born and bred in Auckland, New Zealand, I came to Brisbane on a working holiday when I was 20.

I married a local Brisbane man and moved to Cairns, where I have lived until I moved to Weipa four years ago.

I have been self-employed for over 40 years in the real estate industry in Cairns, owning very successful agencies and employing numerous employees over that time.

When the election was announced, I had several long-time locals approach me to run as a councillor and I thought why not?

Weipa has been very good to me and I have the time and the corporate experience.

My time as a director of the Real Estate Institute of Queensland and the Residential Tenancies Authority has stood me in good stead for the strategic direction that the WTA needs to go.

My vision for the future of the WTA is to continue with the excellent work that the current council has achieved, and follow through on the following projects that are already underway, such as the community youth precinct, Rocky Point boat ramp foreshore masterplan, Nanum Hospital pathway, town centre redevelopment, and the Weipa Coastal Hazard Adaptation Strategy.

I will endeavour to make sure the sustainability of the town, so Weipa is not solely reliant on Rio Tinto, and I look forward to the future as Weipa moves towards normalisation.

I am always available to listen to any concerns of the ratepayers.

Scott Hackett is committed to “putting people first” if successful in being elected to Weipa Town Authority. Photo: Supplied.


Hi Weipa! My name is Scott Hackett.

I’m 40 years old, I am down to earth, approachable and a passionate resident of Weipa.

I reside in Weipa with my wife, Chantelle, and our two kids, Lylah and Kurt.

We love the community, its spirit and are proud to call Weipa home.

I enjoy camping and fishing, and I operate a small business in town and have worked for many years in management for a large-scale company.

I have nominated for a WTA member as this community is more than just where I live; it’s my home and it’s about putting people first.

My vision for this town is road upgrades, including pedestrian/pelican crossing in crucial areas, and upgrades to park facilities, with more shade structures, water bubblers, restrooms and lighting. Many areas around town are lacking these facilities and some don’t have any at all.

I think we need more free community events that cover all ages, including more safe youth nights for our teens.

I want to look into the recycling sector, with introducing a recycle bin to each premise to better our environment and landfill.

Also, better infrastructure around the schools, more parking and funding for crossing guards.

These are the basics that we need, but I want to hear from you!

I am committed to giving back to our community, so let me be your voice to create a sustainable and brighter future for Weipa.

I am dedicated to listening and supporting our people’s ideas and concerns, and doing my best to bring them to life.

Let’s keep Weipa great!

READ ALSO Outgoing chair signals ‘changing of the guard’ in Weipa

Economic diversity will be on the agenda if candidate Trent Gordon is successful on 16 March. Photo: Supplied.


Hello, Weipa folks. For those who don’t know me, my name is Trent Gordon, and I am a long-term Weipa resident who has been actively involved in many community events and sporting groups over the years.

Most recently, I’ve worked closely with local sporting/community groups, local businesses, Weipa Town Authority, Northern Pride and Queensland Rugby League to bring the Hostplus Cup Country Round to Weipa and the western Cape region for the first time in 2023.

My wife Raechel and I have purchased our home and raised our five children during our time living in Weipa, and our youngest son still attends Western Cape College. Our older children have now entered the workforce, and either completed or are currently completing apprenticeships in the far north.

I have a strong connection to this region, as my family have operated different grazing and tourism businesses in the Cape for three generations, during which time both my grandfathers and my mother were elected Cook Shire councillors at different periods.

I am passionate about the lifestyle and opportunities that Weipa and the surrounding Cape York region offers its local residents and visitors alike and, for this reason, I have recently nominated to become an elected member of Weipa Town Authority.

If elected, I would welcome the opportunity to work with business owners, community members and relevant government entities to help diversify the economic base of Weipa, and assist to build a sustainable future for the region and the generations to come.

If you share my passion for Weipa and the future of our great town, please vote 1 for Trent Gordon.

Geoff Robins, pictured with his wife, Rose, and children, Ayda and Olive, says genuine leadership, advocacy and authentic community values are vital to Weipa’s success. Photo: Supplied.


Geoffrey Robins ACM. That’s my official name and title, but please just call me Geoff. I moved to Weipa in June 2014, and my wife Rose and I quickly decided that this was exactly the place where we wanted to raise a family.

Two daughters, two dogs, a boat and a pair of buggies later, we officially became “Weipa-fied”.

After a couple of years of sitting back and enjoying the fruits of others’ hard labour, I decided to stop being a bystander, and to become actively involved in the community.

Although we live in a special place, like everyone else, I too get frustrated with the challenges of remote living from time to time, which is why I want to step up, do my part, and be part of the solution – or at least make things that little bit more enjoyable for everyone. This is why I have nominated to serve as a WTA elected member.

Local councils are typically responsible for town planning, building approvals, road maintenance, water, sewerage and the like, and my vision for the WTA is all of this and more.

A local authority in a place like Weipa must be more than just infrastructure approval and local laws – they are who we look to for genuine leadership, advocacy and to instil authentic community values to keep our village connected, empowered, thriving and prosperous.

If you want to know more about my background and credentials, search my name on Secrets of Weipa and take a look at my recent introduction.

Tourism business operator Gemma Shaw wants Weipa to be seen as a town with a mine, rather than a mine with a town. Photo: Supplied.


I am a local tourism business owner in Weipa, a ratepayer and a military veteran who has served in the Middle East.

My family and I are invested in the future of Weipa, and we are focused on ensuring that Weipa will have a sustainable future.

I have extensive experience in all levels of government and understand how to achieve milestones in a government setting, which will ensure the success of my role as a member.

I want to see Weipa Town Authority thinking outside of the box, to think of Weipa as a thriving community that just happens to have a mine, as opposed to being thought of as a mining town.

We need to develop future economic opportunities outside of mining, such as the deep-water port, as it will continue to be an asset to the community long after Rio Tinto has gone.

I want to ensure the community is aware of the plans, goals and projects of the WTA.

The community’s voice needs to be heard to voice their opinions and ensure that action is taken.

Cape York is a tourism mecca and we need to ensure that we develop our tourism plan so that tourists want to explore the western side of Cape York, instead of bypassing it.

It would be great to see a tourism information centre and a heavy vehicle parking area.

As a last point, I would also petition the State Government for the river height cameras for the Archer River, Laura River and Myall Creek to be accessible for all.

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