Gympie CEO Bernard Smith continues to be a red hot election issue in the countdown to next Saturday's poll.
Gympie CEO Bernard Smith continues to be a red hot election issue in the countdown to next Saturday's poll.

Letter writer deeply unhappy with Gympie election campaign

Ray Goldfinch from Mothar Mountain says the election campaign has been disappointing

The election campaign has been a disappointment. There has been little or no undertaking by most candidates to question the controversial actions of Council and the CEO nor have they provided a commitment to allocate more rates for core responsibilities.

The cliché used in recent times is "Councils are more than Rates, Roads and Rubbish", however these are the very responsibilities that have been sadly neglected. With few exceptions most candidates have not stated that they will provide greater open governance, communication and accountability than we have endured for the last 8 years since amalgamation.

The comment in the Gympie Times 5/03/2016 from the Division 3 and 5 "Meet the Candidates" evening, that all six candidates indicated the current Council was "working satisfactorily" is an insult to the intelligence of voters. If candidates cannot acknowledge that there are problems even though they have been well documented in letters and comments in the Gympie Times why are we voting at all as nothing is likely to change regardless of who is elected if this opinion is widespread amongst the candidates.

The Hydrotherapy Pool group has hijacked the election campaign to the detriment of other important issues, a project that less than 3% of the community has supported and will require Australian taxpayer plus local ratepayer dollars to build and maintain.

Based on construction, maintenance and returns and I suspect with no allowance for depreciation, the figures provided as part of their propaganda are not realistic and costs will be much higher than the projections used to justify the cause. Those candidates committed to supporting 3% of the community need to be asked what are they going to provide for the other 97%.

Mick Curran, who was elected to the Mayoral position in February 2015 and Councillor Bob Leitch, who was appointed by Council (not elected) in April 2015 made a submission to the Local Government Remuneration and Discipline Tribunal for a category change in October 2015. Had it been awarded this change would have increased the Mayors salary by $22,993, Deputy by $19,162 and Councillors by $19,161 pa. The figures do not include superannuation which is determined by Council and if based on the Council employee rate of 13% not the 9.5% private enterprise receives would add an additional average of $2,650.00 pa to their pay packets. They had not been in the job for 12 months before they requested an exorbitant pay increase.

The incumbent Council has defended the reasons why the CEO's contract was renewed before the election. The reasons given raise more questions than answers. Ian Petersen tried hard to have this made more open and transparent but was unsuccessful at every attempt. Who is prepared to get to the truth?

Our CEO was the General Manager of Port Macquarie Hastings Council during the Glass House project debacle which cost the ratepayers millions of dollars. Consequently the state government sacked the Council and our CEO resigned (Macquarie Port News 12/02/2014). As a consultant he carried out a code of conduct investigation into Cr Paul Nicholls the deputy Mayor of Singleton Council. Cr Nicholls won his Supreme Court case against the Council during which Justice Schmidt criticised our CEO's investigation of the complaint and his findings against Cr Nicholls who was awarded costs. The ordeal ruined his local government career (Newcastle Herald 13/08/2012, 10/12/2011, and 12/04/2012) and the cost to Singleton Council ratepayers is reported to be over 1 million dollars.

Since taking up the position with Gympie Regional Council our CEO has been involved in the Jill Promnitz unfair dismissal case which she won (cost to Gympie ratepayers still unknown), the Mike Hartley fraud case where Mr. Hartley was cleared of all charges and the corruption claims against Ian Petersen which he referred to the Crime and Conduct Commission for investigation and all claims were dismissed. These are the three cases we know of but how many more cases of unfair treatment have occurred within our Council. The cost to people's careers, the financial impact and the stress on them and their families is unjustifiable. It is no wonder that so many people are unsure who to vote for or if they should vote at all because regardless of who is elected it may be an exercise in futility. If we forget the past we will regret the future.

Ray Goldfinch,

Mothar Mountain

Leonora Cox (candidate Division 3) has her say

The question constantly arises about whether I was born and raised in Gympie. People asked this as they are concerned about having councillors who are not 'local'.

I am as local as anyone and more than some. I researched areas north and south of Brisbane. I spent weekends visiting various areas. I came to Gympie 3 times, although I had also been here many times before when on holidays. I chose this area for many reasons and moved here with my family. I know I can help people and make a difference in my community. I am passionate about helping create a council that everyone is happy with, that is approachable and helpful, that has community members with specific expertise volunteer to assist with relevant projects.

I moved to the Gympie region in 2007. I like the area, the location, and the town. My son is  employed by a local business,  my daughter attends a local school.

Through work and recreation I have experience in child care, aged care, youth work, policing, transport, sport and recreation, volunteering, self employment, local government, tourism, security, social issues, and training.

I have been a councillor in an area similar in size, population, demographics, and infrastructure to  Gympie. I helped bring in township committees, innovative roads maintenance and funding, build an aquatic centre, develop a range of sporting facilities, and develop excellent community consultation.

My vision is for open, transparent government, residents confident in approaching me for assistance, a council that is trusted by the residents, and information flowing freely between council and community.

Leonora Cox,

Gympie Regional Council Candidate for Division 3

Rod Matthews wants the election candidates to tell him their vision

Times are running out for candidates to stake a claim for the forthcoming elections. It is disappointing to me not read or hear from anyone of them, Mayoral or Councillors, as to what they will do for Gympie to progress it and make it grow. Growth creates employment and if a town has employment then growth follows and that is how an area progresses.

We need some foresight and vision from these who are to be our City leaders, not just repairing our existing roads and services, but some vision as to what we can do to attract new Business and Industry to our area.

From within, our CEO might look at cutting time for Red Tape to be completed. I know that regulations and requirements must be met and abided by but many of these can be expedited and new businesses and manufacturing should be canvassed, welcomed and encouraged. These things create employment and if more people are employed in our area then the area progresses. Maintaining roads and services is essential but doesn't employ more people, these Council workers already have a job.

Put your thinking caps on, go into a think tank and tell us what your vision is to expand the Gympie Region, encourage new Visions and Projects and please tell us all before the election. Give us some vision to look forward to and make a place for our young people to have hope of a future here. They are our future so lets give them hope and help them. They will need a job as will this years school leavers. Give them hope. Plus all those looking for a job now.

Rod Matthews

34 Wises Rd. Gympie 4570

Gympie Times

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