Council votes to suppress Rattler report
A MOTION to reveal the contents of a hamstrung report into the project management of the controversial Mary Valley Rattler has been shot down in the Gympie Regional Council’s final meeting before election time later this month.
Division 6 incumbent Hilary Smerdon gave notice of the motion to release the report confidentially to all councillors in
Wednesday’s meeting, pointing to the time elapsed since it was first announced in April 2018.
Mayor Mick Curran called for the investigation at that time after the Rattler’s price tag exploded from $10.8 million when it was originally announced in early 2017 to an expected $17.5 million.
“I think it’s important that councillors at least should have some idea about what the report held, even if it’s only a partial report I still think that councillors should be privy to that report,” Mr Smerdon said.
Division 8 councillor Bob Fredman seconded the motion and said it was important for councillors to know the contents of the report because it was intended as an “educational tool” to ensure such blowouts would not happen with future projects.
CEO Bernard Smith pointed out his comment in the meeting agenda that preparation of the report had been suspended until finalisation of a legal matter “regarding the quality of the specification prepared for the infrastructure works”.
Councillors Smerdon and Glen Hartwig both said they found it hard to understand why the council’s legal position would be impacted by confidentially releasing the report.
Mr Curran emphasised that all councillors had been briefed on the legal situation “on numerous occasions”.
“I know it’s election season, I know the Rattler will be an issue around an election … but you cannot receive something that hasn’t been done, plain and simple.”
Division 4 councillor Daryl Dodt moved an amendment proposing the report be released upon completion of both the legal matters and the report itself, but that motion lapsed due to lack of a seconder.
Closing the original motion, Mr Smerdon said “councillors are given information in committee many, many times on things that are legal, and I fail to see the difference in this case”.
The motion was lost after it was opposed by councillors Curran, Dodt, Mark McDonald, Bob Leitch and Mal Gear.