Labor must urgently clear up the chaos its botched local government changes are causing in Rockhampton and Townsville, the LNP said today.
Rockhampton’s mayoral election runner-up Chris ‘Pineapple’ Hooper is set to be installed as Mayor for a matter of weeks before being ousted by new emergency legislation, while a candidate who secured only 18 per cent of votes in the 2020 Townsville local government elections is set to be offered the vacant Division 10 council seat.
Shadow Local Government Minister Ann Leahy said Labor’s electoral laws should never have been introduced and were delivering farcical outcomes for Queensland.
“It would be a complete debacle and embarrassment if Chris ‘Pineapple’ Hooper was able to be the Mayor for a week or two and had to be sacked because of Labor’s laws,” Ms Leahy said.
“I have nothing against Chris, but as an ‘accidental’ mayor he is the victim of Labor’s manipulation of the system – as are the people of Rockhampton who deserve certainty about their region’s leadership.
“Labor’s election reforms could have seen a mayor elected with just one vote – all they needed to do was come second in a two-horse race.
“The LNP has been warning about this situation for months.
“The new Local Government Minister Steven Miles needs to come out immediately and tell the people of Rockhampton and Townsville how Labor plans to fix its mess.
“Voters must be told what the process will be and when it will happen.
“Labor is solely responsible for this mess.
“They need to be up front about how they will clean it up.”
The resignation of Rockhampton’s mayor Margaret Strelow shows why the first job of Labor’s new Local Government Minister must be to overturn their anti-democratic ‘runner-up laws’.
LNP Shadow Minister for Local Government Ann Leahy said Labor’s changes to legislation were a farce and the people of Rockhampton deserved better.
“Voters should decide on who will represent them as mayor in an election – it should not be who comes second or third,” Ms Leahy said.
“This mess is entirely Labor’s fault and the new Local Government Minister needs to act fast to fix it.
“The laws were rushed through the parliament this year without any scrutiny by a committee.
“Rockhampton now faces having a mayor they did not choose and that is anti-democratic.
“The residents of Rockhampton are also unable to nominate to stand for the Mayoral vacancy.”
Labor legislative changes mean mayors would be replaced by the candidate with the next highest polling if they were to resign in the first 12 months of their term.
The runner up in the Rockhampton council election received only 31.15% of the vote in a two-horse race.
Ms Leahy also thanked Margaret Strelow for her service to Rockhampton.
“Margaret has been a strong advocate for her region for many years and the community rewarded her with re-election eight months ago,” she said.
“Rockhampton is a better place for her service and I thank her for everything she has done to move the region forward.”