Meeting abandoned after councillors walk out
YESTERDAY’s Whitsunday Regional Council meeting in Bowen was abandoned less than 10 minutes after it started after Crs Dave Clark, Peter Ramage and Andrew Willcox all walked out.
Whitsunday mayor Jennifer Whitney was absent from the meeting as she is on a week’s annual leave.
In her absence, she delegated to Cr Jan Clifford to chair the meeting – a function that would normally go to the deputy mayor.
A Council spokesperson said Cr Whitney chose this course of action to “up-skill” Cr Clifford and take into account the large number of citizenship ceremonies already allocated to deputy mayor Andrew Willcox.
Shortly after the meeting was opened Cr Dave Clark moved a motion to suspend standing orders to allow him to speak.
He then made a statement. “I will be taking no further part in this meeting or any subsequent ordinary meeting until such times as I secure a meeting with the Local Government Minister David Crisafulli to explain exactly what is happening in Council. Furthermore, I will [still] be representing my region and divi- sion,” he said. Councillors Peter Ramage and Andrew Willcox both made similar statements before getting up and walking out.
With only Crs Clifford and John Collins left, there was no quorum and the meeting was adjourned until April 9.
The Minister said yesterday that he would be happy to see them.
“I’ll meet with every councillor in this state – there’s rarely a day that goes by that I don’t meet with a Council or councillors, but I’d give them some pretty frank advice,” he said.
“They are there not to serve me as their minister, not to serve each other but to serve their community.
“What they need to do now is put their differences aside, work through their issues and deliver for their community.
“They’re not going to solve their financial or infrastructure challenges by squabbling among themselves.”
Mr Crisafulli was also critical of the mayor.
“Mayor Whitney has got this wrong. In her absence, the deputy mayor should chair the meeting,” he said.
Meanwhile, Cr Clifford said she was disappointed the business of Council could not proceed
“There was business before Council which needed addressing today and as the Chair I apologise for any inconvenience experienced by members of the community who had matters before Council which they wanted heard today,” she said.
Council’s CEO Scott Waters said all other day-to-day functions of Council would proceed as normal. Cr Whitney will return to work next week.