DISTANCING: Gympie's first meeting of its new regional council took place under pandemic isolation requirements, with public attendance available only via online live streaming.
DISTANCING: Gympie's first meeting of its new regional council took place under pandemic isolation requirements, with public attendance available only via online live streaming.

New COVID-19 rules as Gympie region’s new council meets

NEW Gympie region councillors took in the wisdom of Solomon as they met under pandemic isolation this morning, with new mayor Glen Hartwig in the chair.

An early decision at the council’s first post-eleciton meeting, was the unanimous election of Division 6 councillor Hilary Smerdon, as the new deputy mayor.

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The decision reflected an election result which made Cr Smerdon the most popular candidate at the poll, winning the most votes of any candidate after preferences.

Pastor Dean Comerford urged the new council to be one for all seasons, including the season of pandemic, in pre-meeting remarks quoting King Solomon.

“For everything there is a season,” he read from the Bible.

“And we have already seen that we are in a very interesting season … for the city, the nation and the globe.”

Cr Hartwig congratulated all councillors and warned them they faced a high level of responsibility.

He urged councillors to base their decisions on firm principles. “People may not agree but they will understand,” he said.

“My suggestion to you is to be curious, ask questions and respect honest answers, and understand at all times that we are spending someone else’s money.

“We won’t get it right every time, but we will take responsibility.

“As agreed, we need to lead this council towards openness, honesty and transparency.

“There are exciting times ahead and COVID-19 will present some challenges.

“This region is the greatest place to live, raise a family or simply just enjoy life.

“I look forward to being a mayor for the whole region, treating people equally, without favour or ill will.”

Cr Smerdon said he would emphasise basic services and getting “this great region back where it should be.”

This would require some hard decisions.

“In my opinion, we need to do the basic services first and give ratepayers value for money.

“We need to let the rest of the world know that Gympie is open for business.

“We welcome new businesses and council will do everything it can to assist (them), as well as existing businesses, including primary producers who have always been the backbone of this region.

“I promised open, honest and dependable representation and I intend to deliver these promises, reining in excessive spending and bringing our budgets back into the black.”

Speaking after the meeting, he said he would support the mayor as much as possible and work to “bring this region back into the black.”

Gympie Times


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