French declines strategic post

HIGH-profile businessman David French has taken a parting shot at Mayor Brad Carter as he turns down a directorship with Rockhampton Regional Development Limited.

“The Mayor has made it pretty clear that it’s difficult for council to work with RRD, if I’m still around,” Mr French said in a statement.

“I respect that view and I want RRD to succeed.”

His departure follows comments made in his regular Morning Bulletin column, The French Lesson, in which he claimed council was planning to withdraw support for RRD, in favour of in-house economic development activities.

The column prompted a response from Cr Carter who said he was intrigued by the manner in which Mr French “had chosen to inaccurately publicly report discussions held in confidence with the board of RRD”.

Cr Carter said he’d indicated to the body, the region’s economic development agency, that future financial support from the council was at risk unless certain matters could be addressed.

Mr French said he was convinced the council had to play a stronger role in local economic growth.

“Organisations like RRD provide a great resource and breadth of expertise to the council,” he said.

“It’s a very cheap way of funding the economic development role of a council strapped for cash.

“When this was raised with the Mayor, he responded that the council was developing alternative links of its own.”

He said it was vital to have a well-informed community so it could play its part in the region’s growth.

“That’s why it’s important to make these issues public,” Mr French said.

“These debates shape the livability of our region, and the employment prospects of ourselves and our children.

“With me not accepting the nomination, it will make it easier for council to work with the directors and executive of RRD, for the good of the region.”

Cr Carter said the council was committed to building the prosperity and sustainability of the entire region, and he agreed council had a greater leadership role to play in economic development, along with the private sector and the community.

He said he wished Mr French and his business continued success in the future.

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