NOT CONVINCED: Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow.
NOT CONVINCED: Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow. Chris Ison Rokccouncil

Mayor Strelow backs boycott of priority projects forum

MAYOR Margaret Strelow has fired back at the Capricorn Enterprise's criticism and firmly backed her decision to boycott the Regional Priority Projects Forum last Friday.

Cr Strelow questioned whether Capricorn Enterprise was the right choice to conduct such a meeting and that she was "extremely disappointed" at how the new term had begun.

"We had hoped to have a constructive and positive relationship but the meeting that was held last Friday was called with no reference to us, there was no discussion to the appropriateness or the time," Cr Strelow said.

"Our councillors had not even been declared let alone sworn in, what we received was an email invitation sometime before the election and a follow-up call to say if council was not present it would look bad for us.

"We are very keen to work with other local governments, but we are not convinced Capricorn Enterprise is the appropriate mechanism for us to work together as local governments of the region.

"Capricorn Enterprise should have spoken to us and talked about the appropriateness of them in that role, they did not do so and instead called a meeting and said it would look bad for us. We were hoping some of the awkwardness and ugliness of the last term would be behind us and we could begin on a positive note to look for a direction forward.

"We are not sure that that is the right forum or way forward for us."

Cr Strelow recognised Capricorn Enterprise's role as a tourism organisation but said she did not feel they were the "right answer for economic development".

"We are not sure setting region priorities and the way they have been done is a solid and substantial way for economic development of the region," she said.

"Seriously underwhelmed at Capricorn Enterprise's role and the way they have played this particular setting.

"I think Capricorn Enterprise play a role as a regional tourism organisation and that is important but we do not see Capricorn Enterprise as the right answer necessary for economic development.

"Tourism and economic development are two different things."

Cr Strelow insisted Capricorn Enterprise should be the ones to come forward and rebuild the fractured relationship.

Capricorn Enterprise chairman Graham Scott argued they sent an invitation to the council sometime in February and countered that their "focus was on what's best for the Central Queensland region as a whole".

"Over the last two years, Livingstone Shire Council, in partnership with Capricorn Enterprise achieved $75 million in state and federal grants for Priority Projects which represents over $2000 per person and in the same time period, Rockhampton Regional Council, working independently, achieved about $25 million in state and federal grants representing roughly $300 per person," Mr Scott said.

"I am convinced Capricorn Enterprise plays a role in regional economic development and we would love to work with council's economic development arm whenever we are invited to."

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