Maranoa Regional Council. Photo: Lachlan Berlin
Maranoa Regional Council. Photo: Lachlan Berlin

Councillors erupt over mayor’s ‘lack of consultation’

The ever-widening divide between Maranoa councillors over due dilligence and lack of communication was described as “another sad indictment of the current council” during a vote on who would represent the organisation at southwest focus groups.

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A tense exchange of words was ignited in the February 10 council meeting in Injune when

mayor Tyson Golder moved a motion to appoint deputy mayor Geoff McMullen as a Maranoa council representative for the groups South West Resource Recovery Group/DES, LGAQ and South West Waste Reference Group and for councillor Julie Guthrie be appointed as a council representative for Western Queensland Dogwatch Committee.

Councillor Mark Edwards seconded the mayor’s motion, however Cr Wendy Taylor spoke up and questioned why there had been no consultation with other councillors who may have been interested in the representative positions.

Mayor Golder said no other councillors were consulted about the positions because a decision had to be made quickly.

“I believe we need to do this … if councillors are not happy with these two (Crs McMullen and Guthrie), then the motion won’t be successful,” Cr Golder said.

Cr Taylor responded that she did not disagree with the chosen councillors, but was disappointed with the lack of consultation with all councillors.

Growing fears about lack of communication:

The most contentious issues in Maranoa council throughout the past 10 months have often drawn battle lines between a minority of councillors Joh Hancock, Taylor and O’Neil and mayor Tyson Golder and his Unity Maranoa team.

Former council employee, Cr Hancock voiced her concern with the mayor’s motion that there was no requirement for Crs Guthrie and McMullen to formally report back to council with what was discussed at the meetings.

In response, Cr Guthrie said a lot of information is discussed at the two-hour meetings, and while there is no formal minute taking, she would be happy to provide her own minutes.

“That would be great … I understand, short notes are fine … it’s about the conversation, about what you’ve learnt and the opportunities for the Maranoa,” Cr Hancock said.

“Just something we need to address as a council, when do we actually get to share this information together … sometimes we can just read the minutes but sometimes the discussion behind the minutes is beneficial, so we can understand and be informed as a council as well.”

Cr Taylor agreed and said without assigned portfolios, councillors must be across everything.

At first mayor Golder agreed with Cr Hancock’s point and CEO Julie Reitano added point 3 to the motion – notes or minutes of meetings (as applicable) to be distributed to all councillors via email, supplemented with councillor catch-up - however he retracted and said it woud not be a requirement for minutes to be provided from Crs McMullen and Guthrie.

“So, there’s no requirement for those who go to any external meetings to then bring it back to councillors?” Cr Hancock asked.

“Copies of minutes will be distributed... of course if you want to ask something at the councillor catch-up, but that won’t be a requirement (the minutes),” the mayor replied.

“I believe this is the most efficient way we can operate … I don’t think we’ve lost anything, but gained.”

Cr O’Neil: Pushes for answers from mayor

In the past 10 months councillor Cameron O’Neil has become one of mayor Golder’s fiercest critics, and once again he took aim at the lack of communication and consultation between the community representatives in the lead up to decisions made in council chambers.

“This is another sad indictment of this current council … that we haven’t had the opportunities to collectively discuss these particular committees,” Cr O’Neil said.

“Like Cr Taylor, I have no problem that Cr McMullen is going to represent council’s interests on these matters … same with Cr Guthrie …

“I just would have liked to come together as council.

“ … I’m not making an informed decision on what the other councillors may or may not want to contribute to represent council and I just think that’s incredibly sad there wasn’t that opportunity afforded to all of us …

Cr O’Neil asked the mayor to explain the functions of the various southwest groups that Crs Guthrie and McMullen were assigned to as representatives.

“They are groups, for instance, Cr McMullen has done in the last term and this would be that continuing and as far as Q DOG is … it’s meetings to do with the dog watch committee, which I think are mainly done online,” Cr Golder replied.

Not satisfied with the mayor’s response, Cr O’Neil asked him to explain to the council meeting what South West Resource Recovery/DES was.

Despite putting forward a motion only moments earlier to nominate Cr McMullen to represent the council at South West Resource Recovery/DES meetings, Cr Golder deferred the question to his deputy who had “vast knowledge” on the group.

“This was the group I was the council instigator … representative in this group going in the last term and I’ve been right through every meeting that we’ve had so far,” Cr McMullen answered.

All councillors - except Crs O’Neil, Hancock and Taylor - voted in favour of Crs McMullen and Guthrie representing MRC at the southwest groups’ meetings.

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