"It must be transparent”: Andrew Powell on Gympie Council
THE shadow Minister for Local Government has reiterated the need for accountability and transparency for local governments during a tour of Gympie today.
Member for Glass House Andrew Powell, who also holds the shadow transport and main roads portfolio, says an open line of communication between council and community was integral.
"Across the state, communities do have challenges with what's going on in their local councils from time to time,” he says.
"I think mayors and councillors are best placed to resolve any conflict themselves.”
Joined on the tour by member for Gympie Tony Perrett, Mr Powell says he was aware of the current questions surrounding the transparency of the Gympie Regional Council, but would not be meeting with Mayor Mick Curran or any local representatives during the trip.
"I actually briefly spoke to Mayor Curran during the LGAQ conference last week on the Gold Coast,” he says.
An online petition for an independent inquiry into the operations of the council has recently attracted over 750 signatures.
Major criticisms levelled at the council by the petition's creators include an opaque approach to daily business, with many decisions being made without the local community's input or knowledge.
"It's extremely important to have a functional council that's proactive in respect to growing the region,” Mr Perrett adds.
"Local government must be well connected to the community, it's the whole reason we have local representatives.”
When asked if the shock departure of Bob Fredman from the council after 40 years was a serious loss for Gympie, neither could provide any further details on the reasoning for his controversial resignation.
"I can't really say much, because much of that information hasn't been provided to me - it isn't something I'm privy to,” Mr Perrett says.
"From my own experience of working with him, he had an good, extensive corporate knowledge of the region - and he served the community well during his tenure.”
The high turnover in staff in the Gympie Regional Council at the last election, Mr Powell adds, had resulted in an influx of newcomers.
"There are a lot of fresh faces, and that's exciting and it brings a lot of vibrancy to the council.”