The office of mayor and CEO at the Rockhampton Regional Council chambers.
The office of mayor and CEO at the Rockhampton Regional Council chambers.

ROCKY BY-ELECTION: Key councillor bows out of mayoral race

EXCLUSIVE: Acting Mayor Neil Fisher has officially declared to The Morning Bulletin he will not be running in the 2021 Rockhampton Regional Council by-election.

Previously Cr Fisher had not confirmed whether he would run and following discussions with his family and given his health, he has made the decision to remain in his role as councillor and deputy mayor.

“My decision would always be a decision of my family, we had that discussion and my family would prefer just not to go any further,” Cr Fisher told The Morning Bulletin on Tuesday afternoon.

“I have enjoyed being Acting Mayor, like anything I have given it 100 per cent but have to take into consideration … my family I have them for life.”

Acting Mayor Neil Fisher.
Acting Mayor Neil Fisher.

With his youngest children going into year six another starting year 12, Cr Fisher felt his children going into very important school years needed to be part of the consideration.

“I don’t think there has been, in the last 30 years, a mayor that has a primary school aged child,” he said.

His health was also part of the equation.

In 2017 Cr Fisher underwent lifesaving emergency surgery to remove a 16kg tumour from his large intestine.

He has been receiving chemotherapy treatment for the cancer, with another session with the oncology specialist tomorrow.

“As everyone knows I have been through quite a journey in the last few years on the road to good health,” he said.

“And I need to get my health back on deck.”

The mayoral chair has been vacant since Margaret Strelow tendered her resignation on November 9, 2020.
The mayoral chair has been vacant since Margaret Strelow tendered her resignation on November 9, 2020.

Former mayor Margaret Strelow tendered her resignation on November 9, to which Cr Fisher stepped up from Deputy Mayor to Acting Mayor.

He likened himself to Frank Forde, who is Australia’s shortest-serving prime minister after he served one week in 1945.

“I think I have the honour of being the shortest mayor of local government in Rockhampton,” Cr Fisher said.

Cr Fisher was unaware of Mrs Strelow’s plans to resign and was faced with taking over the role immediately, and has copped a lot of criticism over the way the legislation for the appointment of a new mayor has played out.

“Even though it has been a very torrid time, I want to believe I handled that role as professionally as possible,” Cr Fisher said.

Despite who the mayor becomes, Cr Fisher said he will be there as a “very supportive” role.

“I’ll fulfil my role as acting mayor until the new mayor is appointed and I will be the most professional deputy mayor as I had been to Margaret,” he said.

An official date for the by-election is yet to be announced by the Electoral Commission of Queensland however legislation states the new mayor must be appointed by February 3.

It is anticipated a by-election would be held in mid-January.



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