Councillors to get short pay packet
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 Greg McLean, former managing editor of this newspaper, has withdrawn from the race.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.