STAUNCH TO THE END: While all other councillors agreed with an amendment, Ian Petersen was the lone voice against this and many other matters at the current council’s final meeting yesterday.
STAUNCH TO THE END: While all other councillors agreed with an amendment, Ian Petersen was the lone voice against this and many other matters at the current council’s final meeting yesterday. Renee Albrecht

Petersen's final stand: no confidence in CEO

THE last motion retiring Gympie Regional Councillor Ian Petersen put forward at yesterday's meeting was a vote of no confidence in council CEO Bernard Smith.

His motion lapsed for want of a seconder.

Cr Petersen, who has been a councillor for 19 years, told the crowded council chamber he had enjoyed the first 15 years of his service to the community but during the last four, he had been increasingly concerned with the way the council was being run, with information withheld or not provided to councillors and the community.

"Hundreds of people have urged me to continue, but there are things my wife Bernice and I have to do."

Cr Petersen then put forward his motion of no confidence.

It was also the last ordinary meeting for Cr Larry Friske, who is also retiring, after 28 years on the council.

"I didn't set out to set records for longevity," Cr Friske told his fellow councillors and staff.

He had never had a serious argument with any councillor, he said, and he acknowledged Cr Petersen had been a "major force in every department he handled".

"He is a conscientious councillor and I have the utmost respect for him."

Cr Friske also made reference to his time as deputy mayor.

"When I was nominated, I was not sure I wanted to take it on, but in the past 12 months, Mick (Curran) and I have got on well and it has been a pleasure being your deputy for the past 12 months."

The Mayor replied, thanking both men for their years of service to the community.

Each of the remaining councillors also thanked the two men for their dedication to the job, with Cr Mark McDonald adding, "I have the utmost respect for our CEO".

"He is an outstanding person, CEO and friend, and I thank you Bernard."

The Mayor then thanked all the councillors and the council staff for their work.

"Our last four years has bought many changes - meeting procedures and staff turnover - changes which not everyone agreed with.

"There was the passing of Ron Dyne, who was respected and admired - I didn't expect to end up in this role.

"I particularly thank Larry as my deputy - you have been a good sounding board."

Cr Curran said he believed the council now had the right people in the right jobs.

"People have said we should source staff locally but this is a multi-million dollar business which is accountable to the community so we need the right person in the right job in every staffing position.

"I make no apology for that."

Cr Curran also praised Mr Smith.

"We have had a solid working relationship in the past 12 months.

"You have copped a fair bit of stick, which I believe is unfair.

"What must be remembered is that you are not elected, you are appointed by the council."

He said seven of the eight councillors had shown their support of Mr Smth, with the vote of no confidence lapsing.

Cr Curran then thanked councillors for what they brought to the table.

"Every councillor brings his or her views to this table - that's our job - and it makes good council.

"In closing, I thank all staff too. You can see by the reports before you that regardless of what happens at the election, you have left this council in a very good position.

"Thank you."

Gympie Times


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