Ex-Gympie councillor Ian Petersen as rejected claims he has sour grapes over losing mayoral by-election, implores critics to stick to facts.
Ex-Gympie councillor Ian Petersen as rejected claims he has sour grapes over losing mayoral by-election, implores critics to stick to facts. Craig Warhurst

Petersen: Critics should 'stick to the facts'

The Master of Mistaken Assumptions is at it again.

Amongst his many previous vitriolic attacks, (probably about eight or 10 and all unfounded), Wayne Plant claimed I was driving a much more expensive car than the other councillors. The truth is that it was identical to that driven by the other five councillors with rural divisions.  

He claimed I was not a ratepayer. The truth is that although our home is in my wife's name, I do pay the rates. The Petersen family has been paying rates for five generations for an unbroken period of well over 100 years.

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He claimed that I was one of the highest paid councillors for many years. The truth is that I was always on the same base rate as all other councillors and received the standard allowance as Committee Chairman.

He did neglect to mention that during my time as Deputy Mayor, I declined the additional salary attached to that position.

Cr Ian Petersen in chambers during the first budget delivered under Mayor Mick Curran.
Cr Ian Petersen in chambers during the first budget delivered under Mayor Mick Curran. Greg Miller

Mr Plant berated me for voting against the lowest rate rise in 20 years. Wrong yet again.

I voted against a 2015 budget that contained what I believed to be unnecessary and extravagant spending. He neglected to mention the low rate rises and one year of reduced rates during my time as Chairman of Finance from 2004 to 2008 right in the middle of his erroneously alleged 20 years. 

His latest outburst suggests my concerns about the reckless and secretive financial mismanagement of the current regime is simply sour grapes.

Ian Petersen.
Ian Petersen. Renee Pilcher

He is wrong yet again. To be sour grapes I would have to have coveted the position for personal gain. I did not. The only reason I put my name forward in the by-election was because I was deeply concerned about the prospect of continuing reckless financial mismanagement.

So Mr Plant is wrong again. I have no feelings of sour grapes. Just a feeling of extreme sadness to see so many good staff treated so badly. A feeling of extreme sadness to see so many ratepayers struggling to pay their rates.

A feeling of extreme sadness to see the prospect of our children being saddled with crippling debt and unaffordable rates.

A feeling of extreme anger at the arrogance of the current regime who believe they can ignore the wishes of the community.

Gympie Council CEO Bernard Smith and Mayor Mick Curran.
Gympie Council CEO Bernard Smith and Mayor Mick Curran. Renee Albrecht

Mr Plant's attempt to deflect criticism by pointing out the 2008-2009 rate rises is simplistic and lacks cognitive thought. That increase was a result of the amalgamation where Cooloola Council had to take over the State Governments subsidising of Kilkivan Shire.

Kilkivan's total revenue from rates and charges did not even cover their wages so they had to rely on State Government grants and subsidies. That is not a criticism of Kilkivan. It is just a fact of life and the realism of having a large area with a lot of roads and infrastructure but a low population to share that cost. Amalgamation was not our decision. Whether it was the right decision is arguable but once the decision was made by the State Government it was something with which we had to cope.  

I can understand Mr Plant feeling the need to leap to the defence of his neighbour Mick Curran but he really does need  to stick to facts. 

A wise man once said that criticism is the greatest form of flattery. I must say that after the relentless barrage of inane and inaccurate criticisms from the Master of Mistaken Assumptions, I feel very flattered. 

Ian Petersen

Gympie

(Abridged)

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