Rockhampton Regional Council mayor Tony Williams.
Rockhampton Regional Council mayor Tony Williams.

New mayor Williams talks priorities post-Pineapple uproar

Mayor Tony Williams was relieved when he received confirmation of his election victory.

Resigning as the councillor for division 3 to fill the new position, he said Rockhampton needed to move on from the law change that prevented Chris Hooper from taking office by default.

In a visit to Rockhampton on Thursday morning, before Cr Williams was declared mayor, Local Government Minister Steven Miles expressed the same final sentiment.

"I understand those who thought they might have been appointed under the prior arrangements are unhappy about that, but I certainly think it's entirely appropriate that we put in place a democratic process to elect a leader for a city as important as Rockhampton," he said.

"If they wanted to elect the person who came second last time, they had a choice to do that; they've chosen not to."

He did not say whether he personally agreed or disagreed with the initial alteration of the Local Government Act - the one that would have made Mr Hooper mayor - only that he "wasn't the minister at that time".

"At that time we couldn't have predicted the somewhat irregular decision of the recently-elected mayor to resign so quickly into her term, but faced with those circumstances I think it was appropriate to give Rockhampton people a say," Dr Miles said.

Steven Miles at Rockhampton Airport on Thursday.
Steven Miles at Rockhampton Airport on Thursday.

With that controversy at least temporarily behind the council, Cr Williams said his priority was bringing the council's budget into surplus and "building a bigger pie so we all get a better share".

"It's been a long, drawn-out campaign, and waiting for those final counts to come through was something there that was very arduous," he said.

"The priority is at the moment working on a budget, the formation of a budget, and looking at how we can bring that from a deficit position into a surplus position.

"Longer-term we've got to look at jobs and growth. Once we have all these major projects come to a finish, we're going to need some sustainable jobs into the future."

Cr Williams received about 24.82 per cent of first preference votes and 58.76 per cent of votes after the distribution of preferences.

He was followed by Russell Claus, who received 15.59 per cent of first preferences and 41.24 per cent of distributed votes.

Cr Williams said he was pleased about the "substantial lead" and congratulated other candidates on their campaigns.

"I'm the first one to admit I might not have all the answers, but I'm happy to work with everyone," he said.

"I might not have been everyone's first choice this time as a candidate, but I'm going to put my best foot forward and hopefully they can see what I'm able to do."

He encouraged the unsuccessful mayoral candidates, particularly those without council experience, to run in the coming by-election for his previous position.

"I think it's important getting that experience there to run for higher office and basically that's what my campaign was on," Cr Williams said.

"I'll have an open door and I really do want to hear what everyone has to say, so I'm not going to be able to achieve everything, but I'll do my best to represent the community the best I can."



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