Brunker calls for Whit­ney to be sacked

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Sharon Small­wood

FOR­MER mayor Mike Brunker is call­ing on Lo­cal Govern­ment Min­is­ter David Crisa­fulli to sack the cur­rent Whit­sun­day mayor Jennifer Whit­ney af­ter a row that has erupted over a 2010 fi­nan­cial sus­tain­abil­ity re­port (FSR).

Cr Whit­ney claims the re­port, pro­vided to Coun­cil’s ex­ec­u­tives by the Queens­land Trea­sury Cor­po­ra­tion (QTC) in March 2010, warned of Coun­cil’s im­pend­ing fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties, yet was never brought to the board­room for all of Coun­cil to dis­cuss.

She says had this oc­curred, diffe- rent de­ci­sions could have been made, par­tic­u­larly over the de­liv­ery of wa­ter and sew­er­age treat­ment plants, mean­ing Coun­cil would not be in its cur­rent level of debt.

Mr Brunker says this is not true and that Coun­cil held meet­ings over sev­eral months dis­cussing wa­ter and sew­er­age needs and the re­sult­ing im­pli­ca­tions on fi­nances.

He says in Jan­uary 2010, then CEO John Fin­lay, sent an email to all coun­cil­lors up­dat­ing them on im­mi­nent talks with QTC over fi­nan­cial modelling for treat­ment plants.

Fur­ther­more, he claims QTC con­ducted a brief­ing for coun­cil­lors at the Proser­pine En­ter­tain­ment Cen­tre on March 5, 2010 and at the Coun­cil meet­ing of March 10, Cr Clif­ford moved a mo­tion to pro­ceed with the de­liv­ery and oper­a­tion of sew­er­age treat­ment plant up­grades.

“So the sug­ges­tion that Crs Whit­ney and Clif­ford were ba­si­cally left in the dark over bor­row­ings for the wa­ter and sew­er­age treat­ment plants is ab­so­lutely fan­ci­ful,” he said. “They’re ei­ther suf­fer­ing from am­ne­sia or they’re ly­ing and I think it’s the lat­ter – they’re ly­ing.”

At yes­ter­day’s Coun­cil meet­ing in Bowen, Cr Whit­ney ab­so­lutely re­futed these al­le­ga­tions, say­ing at no stage had the FSR, in its en­tirety, been brought to Coun­cil.

Cr Peter Ra­m­age said parts of the doc­u­ment were fa­mil­iar. Cr Andrew Will­cox said he was con­fused.

“Now [you’re say­ing] you’ve seen some of it?” he asked.

Cr Whit­ney again main­tained that cer­tain parts of the re­port may have fea­tured in QTC’s brief­ing and Coun­cil’s in­ter­nal dis­cus­sions.

“But you have to read this whole re­port to get the whole story,” she said. On the other side of the de­bate, Mr Brunker is also hold­ing firm about the fact that the treat­ment plants, now so con­tentious for their cost, were ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary for the shire.

“What people for­get is sewage was run­ning down the hill at Cannonvale and the Proser­pine plant was about one pink slip off be­ing closed down,” he said.

“So we ac­tu­ally had to bor­row some money to build some in­fra­struc­ture – shock hor­ror.”

Min­is­ter Crisa­fulli is cur­rently on leave and was there­fore un­able to com­ment this week.

Coun­cil­lors voted unan­i­mously at yes­ter­day’s Coun­cil meet­ing to now make the re­port pub­lic.

All 57 pages of the re­port will be up­loaded to Coun­cil’s web­site and hard copies will be avail­able at all Coun­cil cus­tomer ser­vice cen­tres and at the Cannonvale Li­brary.

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