Lo­cal iden­tity takes on tourism top role

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

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.

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