OPINION: We expect our council to decide

BUNDABERG Regional Council CEO Steve Johnston, it’s time to make a decision.

As CEO you’re paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year of ratepayers’ money to make the important decisions.

I understand the councillors left you to be the fall guy.

It’s been a failure on their part to reach a decision that’s left you in this position, and it shouldn’t have played out this way.

Those who rejected the 20m recommendation could have moved a motion to approve it at nine storeys on Monday.

But those councillors seemingly also baulked at taking on that responsibility, letting down ratepayers who’d expect them to take a stand either way.

The Bargara high-rise development is the most controversial development the region’s seen in years and it’s these times when we expect those people paid to make the best decisions for our community to step up.

As the former deputy director-general at the Department of Local Government, Infrastructure and Planning, two years with the Planning Institute of Australia in Canberra and the one sent in to clean up the mess that was Fraser Coast Regional Council, Mr Johnston, you’ve got the experience to make a well-considered decision and negotiate the circus this process has become.

You’ve also got a planning department, that you sit directly above, collectively taking home more that $1 million a year who are there to offer advice. Ratepayers would expect you to be confident in, and back, the team of professionals you lead. Otherwise what are we paying them for?

No one wins with a deemed approval, except the developer.

Even those who want to see the high-rise approved at nine storeys don’t win if our council becomes a toothless tiger.

It’s embarrassing to think our council would deliberately relinquish control over this project.

Ratepayers should feel angry and let down if we’re paying a lot of our money to people who aren’t prepared to make the tough decisions when it’s required.

Making a decision won’t please everyone, but at least it’s respectable.


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