Coun­cil­lors to get short pay packet

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Rod Kil­ner

THE sur­prise news that the new Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil will be clas­si­fied Cat­e­gory 2 for re­mu­ner­a­tion of coun­cil­lors has claimed its first high pro­file can­di­date. Greg McLean, for­mer man­ag­ing edi­tor of this news­pa­per, has with­drawn from the race.

‘‘My de­ci­sion to re­sign from my po­si­tion and con­test the coun­cil elec­tion was never about the money, it was be­cause I be­lieved I could make a pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion to the Shire,’’ Mr McLean said.

‘‘How­ever I have a young fam­ily, and the pay level for a Cat­e­gory 2 coun­cil­lor means I sim­ply can’t sup­port my fam­ily, and un­for­tu­nately I was left with no choice.’’

The ex­pec­ta­tion prior to the an­nounce­ment was that the new Shire would be rated Cat­e­gory 3.

The de­ci­sion by the Lo­cal Govern­ment Re­mu­ner­a­tion and Dis­ci­pline Tri­bunal means a coun­cil­lor would re­ceive a salary of $31,630, the deputy mayor $38,659, while the mayor will be paid $73,803.

In as­sess­ing the cat­e­gory al­lo­cated to a coun­cil, the tri­bunal con­sid­ers a range of cri- teria, in­clud­ing the size of the area, ge­o­graph­i­cal and en­vi­ron­men­tal ter­rain, pop­u­la­tion in­clud­ing the area’s de­mo­graph­ics, spread of pop­u­la­tion and the ex­tent of ser­vices pro­vided.

Lo­cal coun­cil­lor Ju­lia Leu said Cat­e­gory 2 was be­low what was an­tic­i­pated, with the ex­pec­ta­tion that it would be the same as Hinch­in­brook Shire Coun­cil, that is a Cat­e­gory 3.

‘‘The pay rate will prob­a­bly be be­low the ex­pec­ta­tions of most po­ten­tial can­di­dates and I cer­tainly hope it does not de­ter high cal­i­bre and good qual­ity can­di­dates which for me is es­sen­tial for the suc­cess of the new coun­cil,’’coun­cil­lor Leu said.

‘‘No-one goes onto coun­cil for the money, but most peo­ple have mort­gages and ba­sic liv­ing costs to at­tend to.

‘‘ There is a sig­nif­i­cant amount of work to be done, par­tic­u­larly in the first two years which will be de­mand­ing on coun­cil­lors’ time.’’

At this stage, no other po­ten­tial can­di­dates have in­di­cated that they will be pulling out.

Robert Hanan said he’ll re­main a con­tender.

‘‘I al­ways con­sid­ered it to be a full­time job par­tic­u­larly for the first few years of this new coun­cil,’’ Mr Hanan said

‘‘ But this pay scale is hard to un­der­stand. Be­fore amal­ga­ma­tion we were Cat­e­gory 3; now it’s Cat­e­gory 2.

‘‘It’s very hard to un­der­stand the mech­a­nism and it should be re­viewed, how­ever I’m happy to wear that and do not plan to pull out from the nom­i­na­tions.’’

Lo­cal Govern­ment Min­is­ter David Crisa­fulli said he un­der­stood the angst, but it was not some­thing he had any power over.

‘‘Coun­cil­lor wages are set by an in­de­pen­dent tri­bunal but pro­vided there’s no con­flict of in­ter­est, noth­ing pre­vents a coun­cil­lor from hav­ing an­other job while serv­ing their com­mu­nity,’’ the min­is­ter said.

‘‘ It may be that a lo­cal nurse, farmer or small busi­ness owner wants to put their hand up and it’s up to lo­cals to de­cide who will best rep­re­sent them.’’

How­ever in a quick stroll around town it be­came very clear that vot­ers want full time rep­re­sen­ta­tives, not part timers.

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