Former Rockhampton MP Robert Schwarten says the current Rockhampton mayor acts unilaterally.
Former Rockhampton MP Robert Schwarten says the current Rockhampton mayor acts unilaterally. Chris Ison

Mayor pushing her own barrow on levee plan, writes Schwarten

ADAM Wratten hit the nail on the head about the need for unity in establishing priorities on local projects in order to secure funding from other levels of government. Projects such as the refurbishment of the Southside pool were funded in this way. In that case I was approached by local swimming enthusiasts to fund a new international standard pool. I sought the view of Mayor Brad Carter, the federal member Kirsten Livermore, the chair of the RDO Bill Byrne and the chair of Capricorn Enterprise, Grant Cassidy.

Read Mayor Strelow's response by clicking here

I succeeded in persuading the State Treasurer Andrew Fraser to provide $8 million to build the new pool and the Federal government matched.

The council was kept with the rest, a figure of less than $3 million at that time. The city got a great asset for less than 20% of the cost and now have some of the best pool facilities in Australia. Brad Carter took a similar approach in securing the $60 million funding for the Gracemere overpass.

That system no longer applies as the current mayor acts unilaterally.

For example with no community consultation she decided that the state funding I secured to finish the Riverbank Redevelopment should go elsewhere. We still do not know the exact details of where it went but with one fell swoop she put a community-endorsed project to the sword. The result is Rockhampton' s front yard is now an unkempt haven for belligerent drunks.

This mayor expects that she can direct other elected members on what they will support.

Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne has conducted a survey that proves her idea of a flood levee is not what people want. Michelle Landry is also doing a survey to see what people have to say. In the past Keppel MP Bruce Young has stated that he believes people do not want the levee.

These members have every right to act on what they believe is what their electors want. Obviously they are listening to what is being said in the street on the issue.

The sheer arrogance of this mayor is the problem. At no point prior to her election did Ms Strelow ever suggest that a levee would be a priority. As far as I know no consultative process was undertaken to determine that a flood levee was the number one priority in the minds of the electors of this city.

The mayor again acting unilaterally has decides this is our priority and everyone else can like or lump it.

Adam is right about studies gathering dust. No other level of government is going to support a project that is not supported by its local members. It is common sense that projects which have full community endorsement are going to get funded instead of those which are mired in controversy.

The flood levee fits the latter category. Also there is no suggestion that either the state are federal government is even considering funding the project, a cursory glance at the forward estimates proves that.

Instead of squandering public money on political advertising the mayor would be better off facing reality.

This city cannot afford the $50 + million this project will require, there is no support from other levels of government, the average ratepayer does not consider the levee the greatest priority and the consultation process has been abysmal.

With no final costings or engineering design it is premature and arrogant to expect community support so one hopes that the mayor will either ditch the project or engage in proper community consultation after the real costs and design are published.

Expecting other elected representatives to toe her line and go against the grain of public opinion will as Adam puts it confine the future of this project to a dusty filing cabinet.

Robert Schwarten

North Rockhampton

Response from Mayor Margaret Strelow

I SOUGHT and secured support for funding to get to the study done.

This was across three levels of government. The funding pool which is funding levees across the state was only announced 18 months ago.

Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow


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