“We have a wonderful lifestyle here in Toowomba,” the Mayor says, “so we’ve got to make sure that we don’t affect the opportunities that are in our area.”

Paul Antonio wants to use technology to build a transport hub; encourage investment from China; boost tourism; and continue to get citizen feedback. But not at the expense of that laid-back sunshine lifestyle.

“The Toowomba region is going to develop as a transport and logistics hub,” he says, with a new airport and increasing rail infrastructure boosting development. The Mayor’s Smart City vision will therefore prioritise traffic management and traffic control, but also includes more esoteric priorities such as “high tech lightbulbs,” he adds.

This transport connectivity will increase foreign investment, he notes. “All that does attract investment,” and the Mayor just visited China just this month meeting with second-tier cities and suppliers.

He wants to build his citizens’ opportunities for new business, by boosting digital skills in the city. “We are developing as many programmes as we can to develop online literacy,” he notes, with free clinics and seminars.

Most innovative, though, is his city government – which has been running a series of ‘pop up consultations’. The council has moved away from town hall-type events, and consulted communities in more relaxed and open environments – such as parks, markets or schools. “We were finding that we were taking quite a few of our people [to town hall meetings] in the evenings, and we probably didn’t need to have as many people out there”, he says. “So as a result of that, we chose to do it in a different way.”

So far, the council has incorporated citizens’ suggestions on how the city runs their off-leash dog areas and library hours through the consultation sessions.

Toowoomba – also known as Queensland’s Garden City – may be less of a digital dynamo than other cities GovInsider has interviewed. But perhaps slow and steady wins the race.