Somerset thumbs down

Deputy Mayor Helen Brieschke recommended Somerset Regional Council abstain from voting for the election of the LGAQ Policy Executive District representative due to the disparity of votes allocated to Ipswich City Council (8) and three regional councils (2 each). Picture: SRC

Somerset Regional Council (SRC) has given a big thumbs down to the Local Government Association of Queensland’s (LGAQ) constitution regarding electing Policy Executives.

In its ordinary meeting on Wednesday, 8 May, council had the choice of voting for either Councillor Paul Tully of Ipswich City Council (ICC) or Councillor Tom Sharp from Scenic Rim Regional Council (SRRC) to represent District 2 SEQ (Western) in the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) Policy Executive.

Councillors unanimously agreed voting was pointless, given ICC had eight votes while SRC, Lockyer Valley Regional Council and SRRC had only two each.

The maths was simple, eight votes always beats six.

SRC CEO Andrew Johnson said council was invited to vote for the nominations, with ballot papers due Monday, 20 May.

“The outcome has already been concluded, but we’ve been invited to vote,” Mr Johnson said.

“I did check with LGAQ and it’s not compulsory to vote.”

SRC currently has a 2021 motion with LGAQ seeking to change the constitution, which is still in progress.

“We’re expressing our disappointment with LGAQ and asking them to progress the issue and to find that resolution,” Mr Johnson said.

Deputy Mayor Helen Brieschke requested to amend the motion from voting to abstaining.

“This has been a problem for longer than I’ve been in council and I’d actually like to change the motion and refuse to vote,” Cr Brieschke said.

Councillor Michael Bishop agreed to the change.

“It’s meaningless to vote, it’s insulting, demeaning, hopeless, rude,” he said.

“Given that we’re all democratically elected, this is quite severe, really.”

Mayor Jason Wendt queried if ICC could vote against their own nomination.

“It’s unlikely, it’s not impossible, but it’s unlikely,” Mr Johnson said.

“There’s substantial differences between these three councils and Ipswich, and that’s really our drama,” Cr Wendt said.

Cr Brieschke’s amended resolution was unanimously supported by SRC and is as follows:

“That council abstain from voting for the election of the LGAQ Policy Executive District representative for the period 2024-2028 or until the Somerset LGAQ Motion is further progressed.”