Local identity takes on tourism top role
TREVOR Rees has been appointed chairperson of Whitsundays Marketing and Development Limited (WMDL) to lead the organisation into the new year.
The vote to elect Mr Rees in place of former chairperson Jim Elder was taken at a directors’ meeting on Tuesday, December 22, attended by fellow directors David Stielow and David Nebauer but not attended by Jim Elder or Mayor Jennifer Whitney.
At the meeting it was also resolved to reorganise the internal staff structure of WMDL, with the appointment of Mr Nebauer as executive director.
The directors present said this revised structure was designed to enable WMDL’s tourism and economic development staff to work more autonomously, ending the previous arrangement where the tourism general manager reported to the economic de- velopment general manager.
Mr Elder however, said this extraordinary board meeting and the actions taken at it were “unconstitutional”.
“This matter, and a concerning financial matter, which I believe precipitated the board change, is now with ASIC (the Australian Securities and Investments Commis- sion),” he said.
Mr Rees maintained the changes voted for on December 22 would position WMDL in a better place to deliver the outcomes the members and stakeholders were seeking.
“It was time for WMDL to have a chairperson who lives and works in the Whitsundays,” he said, adding a local person would be “closer to the action” and have “a closer understanding of the needs and issues facing the tourism and general business community in the Whitsundays”.
Mr Rees said the board nonetheless thanked Mr Elder for his service as a volunteer chair since 2012 and had asked him to stay on as an invited director.
“And we hope he chooses to do so,” he said.
Mr Elder meanwhile, said he had advised the directors they would be solely responsible for any actions taken beyond December 22.
“I have also met with the State Government to provide details of my concerns, including senior legal advice from Minister Ellison and an accounting review by Moore & Stevens, which was tabled with the board,” he said.
Mr Rees countered these concerns by saying: “Mr Elder has questioned the way in which the participating tourism industry businesses made their financial contributions to (a) campaign, so to ensure that all is above board we have formally asked TEQ to fully review this campaign in a transparent and thorough manner”.
“The changes the board has made will enable WMDL to be more accountable and transparent to members and key stakeholders,” he said.
These latest changes follow representations made by members of the Tourism Strategic Advisory Group (TSAG) at the close of 2015 about concerns over the effectiveness of the organisation’s tourism and economic development “mix”. Mr Rees said it was the intention of the board to arrange an open meeting with WMDL members and stakeholders as soon as possible in the New Year to allow open discussion on the long term future of WMDL.
LONG-STANDING: Jim Elder has been the volunteer chair of WMDL since 2012.
LOCAL: Trevor Rees has taken on the roles of WMDL and TSAG chair.