Margaret Strelow earlier this year when she announced she would run for mayor again.
Margaret Strelow earlier this year when she announced she would run for mayor again.

Changes discussed in parliament to revoke Hooper as mayor

THE BILL which is set to revoke Chris Hooper's automatic status as new Rockhampton Region mayor, was spoken about in Queensland Parliament late on Thursday afternoon.

The bill was presented for an amendment to the Local Government Act 2009 and the Local Government Electoral Act 2011.

The bill was tabled as the 2020 Councillor Vacancies Amendments by Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman.

The following speech was heard:

"Mr Speaker I turn now to amendments to the Local Government legislation.

"A number of mayors and councillors have expressed their views that the recent amendments in the Electoral and Other Legislation (Accountability, Integrity and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2020 provide for a new process under the Local Government Act 2009 for filling vacancies give rise to the possibility that a candidate who only achieved a small percentage of the vote could be appointed to a vacant position.

"Following consideration of stakeholder feedback the government made an election commitment to change the process for filling vacancies that arise during the first 12 months of a local government's term.

"The proposed change will provide for mayoral vacancies in the first 12 months of the local government's term to be filled by a by-election.

"Where there is a vacancy in the office of a councillor, whether in a divided or an undivided council, the council will determine by resolution whether the vacancy is to be filled by a by-election or by the appointment of a runner-up.

"No changes are proposed to the method for filling vacancies that arise during the middle or final part of a local government's term, as provided for in the recent amendments.

"These amendments are supported by the LGAQ and represent a return to the arrangements that have been in place since 2009.

"It is proposed that these amendments will operate retrospectively meaning that these current vacancies will be filled in accordance with the new process in the Bill.

"These proposed amendments would mean that for the current mayoral vacancy at the Rockhampton Regional Council, a by-election will be held to elect a new mayor.

"For the current vacancy in Division 10, Townsville City Council, the council will have the choice between appointing the runner-up and holding a by-election.

"The relevant Minister has foreshadowed allowing the parliament a more fulsome consideration of how council vacancies should be filled in various circumstances in the future."

The bill is expected to be debated and potentially passed next week.