Chris ‘Pineapple’ Hooper won’t automatically become the next Rockhampton mayor with the Palaszczuk Government to do an embarrassing backflip.
Chris ‘Pineapple’ Hooper won’t automatically become the next Rockhampton mayor with the Palaszczuk Government to do an embarrassing backflip.

Pineapple crushed as Palaszczuk Govt backflips on laws

New laws will be rushed through parliament stopping Chris 'Pineapple' Hooper from automatically becoming the next Rockhampton mayor as Margaret Strelow was accused of quitting the job in a ratepayer-funded "temper tantrum".

The embarrassing backflip by the Palaszczuk Government came as it admitted it introduced contentious local government laws that would have installed the colourful identity to the city's top job as a way to stop councillors contesting the state election.

The backtrack means ratepayers will now go back to the polls in a by-election to fill the job, which Ms Strelow last night ruled out contesting.

Chris ‘Pineapple’ Hooper almost became Rockhampton’s accidental mayor.
Chris ‘Pineapple’ Hooper almost became Rockhampton’s accidental mayor.

It came as she was accused of a "childish tantrum" or expensive "stunt" in announcing her shock resignation over a misconduct finding relating to her failure to update her Register of Interests following a trip to India in 2017 that included Adani-sponsored hospitality.

But Ms Strelow hit back at those claims from Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke, saying that resigning was "the honourable thing to do" even though she didn't agree with the misconduct finding.

 

 

Mayor defends resignation after 'childish' claims

 

MP disgusted by law backflip after 'Labor's mess' exposed

 

 

Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe confirmed the government would wind back the laws with retrospective legislation when the new parliament is sworn in that will block Mr Hooper - who attracted just a third of the vote - from automatically ascending to the job.

"This will ensure communities can have a proper vote to determine who represents them," he said.

Mr Hinchliffe said the government had initially changed the laws in a bid to discourage councillors from running in the October state election, but conceded the laws had not "really been successful".

Mayor Margaret Strelow resigned as Rockhampton mayor over a misconduct finding.
Mayor Margaret Strelow resigned as Rockhampton mayor over a misconduct finding.

"There were a number of councillors who contested the state election," he said.

"It obviously didn't prove to be a disincentive as it was intended.

"Particularly when you see examples across the state where mayors have been elected on large margins, communities want to have a say in who can be their mayor going forward."

The LNP's local government spokeswoman Ann Leahy had earlier branded the situation a "mess" as she called on the government to "act fast to fix it".

But Mr O'Rourke blamed Ms Strelow for creating the situation by resigning, saying there had been other less "selfish" avenues she could have chosen rather than to spark a by-election likely to cost ratepayers "hundreds of thousands of dollars".

"The tribunal finding did not require her resignation," he wrote in a Facebook post to his community.

"Ratepayers did not expect her to or want her to.

"She simply should not have done it.

"She has behaved selfishly and not in the best interest of ratepayers."

Mr O'Rourke said Ms Strelow could have put the matter behind her by simply apologising at a council meeting or by fighting the decision at QCAT.

"There was simple (sic) no reason to resign and her decision cannot be justified rationally," he said.

"It's either a childish tantrum or a stunt designed to cause a completely unnecessary by-election."

The misconduct finding recommended Ms Strelow make an apology that she has engaged in misconduct at the next council meeting, update her register of interests and attend training relating to maintaining her register of interests.

Under the new laws, Pineapple Hooper would have become mayor because he came second on the council election. Photo: Chris Ison
Under the new laws, Pineapple Hooper would have become mayor because he came second on the council election. Photo: Chris Ison

But Ms Strelow said she couldn't apologise as a matter of principle and still believed she had acted correctly in declaring an Adani solar farm inspection on the council's Register of Sponsored Hospitality instead.

"The fact that I didn't list the solar farm inspection on my Register of Interests (separate to the Register of Sponsored Hospitality) was not an administrative oversight, it was a position of principle," she said in a statement.

"And my refusal to stand in front of my community to confess to misconduct is similarly a position of principle.

"That said, I resigned because I had been found guilty of misconduct and I felt it was the honourable thing to do even though I don't agree with the finding."

Ms Strelow welcomed news the "bad" local government laws would be repealed.

Mr Hinchliffe insisted the government had already promised to change the laws prior to the state election, and it was not a reflection on Mr Hooper.

Originally published as Pineapple crushed as Palaszczuk Govt backflips on laws


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