‘Ludicrous’: Resignation sparks anger among CQ mayors
A DIFFERENCE in a three-year-old piece of paperwork is all that separates Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow from seven other Central Queensland leaders who took part in an Adani-funded day trip to an Indian solar farm.
Cr Strelow announced her resignation on Monday after a Councillor Conduct Tribunal found her guilty of misconduct.
Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson said he had joined Cr Strelow, Isaac Mayor Anne Baker, Whitsunday Mayor Andrew Willcox, Gladstone Mayor Matt Burnett, Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill and Charters Towers Mayor Liz Schmidt and Kerry Hayes from Central Highlands as part of the official trade delegation in 2017.
"It was all the people who had an interest in looking at Adani as a company," Cr Williamson said.
Cr Williamson said the trip included a $1600 tour of the Adani's Kamuthi solar farm, which he said the mayors were advised by the Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs to declare as a gift.
Both Cr Williamson and Isaac's Cr Baker said they followed the department's suggestion and registered the trip as a gift.
But since the Premier appointed the trade delegation to represent their regions' interests, Cr Williamson said Cr Strelow listed the trip as part of her official duties.
"Margaret believed we were working (so) it shouldn't be a gift," he said.
"She stood her ground."
A Councillor Conduct Tribunal found Cr Strelow did not inform the CEO of the interest, namely the hospitality received from Adani, via a form 2 within 30 days.
While Cr Strelow said she put the trip on the council register, the tribunal found her guilty of misconduct.
Cr Williamson said it was "ludicrous" bureaucrats had pursued Cr Strelow for three years over an issue of differing paperwork used to declare the trip.
"God knows how expensive it was at a bureaucratic level," he said.
Cr Williamson said he was shocked his Rockhampton counterpart had resigned over the issue.
"I was surprised that Margaret had taken this step," Cr Williamson said.
"All that was required from the misconduct was an apology from council.
"She's chosen to highlight a more ludicrous part of the legislation."
Cr Williamson said his colleague's resignation had forced the government to immediately review its legislation, which would allow Chris 'Pineapple' Hooper to become mayor despite only winning 30.91 per cent of the vote in the latest mayoral election.
"It's an idiotic law," Cr Williamson said.
"And it's shown in the Rockhampton case to be crazy."
Cr Williamson said he was unsurprised the state was trying to "back-pedal", as Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe announced the government would introduce and pass a bill to retrospectively amend the Local Government Act and has called for a Rockhampton by-election.
Cr Baker said it was disappointing to see the experienced leader leave her role, but added declarations of interest were "part of business" in the role.
"We get elected to work and be part of the community," Cr Baker said.
"Through my lens, if you're in doubt you ask the question and act as you are advised."