Independent candidate for Rockhampton Margaret Strelow.
Independent candidate for Rockhampton Margaret Strelow. Allan Reinikka ROK061117astrelow

Strelow fallout: Council update and pollies give feedback

In the wake of Margaret Strelow's decision to run in the state election, Rockhampton Regional Council has provided details on what will happen next and several political identities have shared their thoughts on her decision.

Rockhampton Regional Council said Margaret Strelow had immediately gone on leave without pay from the position of Mayor following her announcement she is running as an independent candidate in the state election.

READ: Strelow: Why I'm risking it all on this massive gamble

Acting CEO Ross Cheesman said the decision was provided for under Section 160B of the Local Government Act 2009 with a new Acting Mayor to be appointed at today's council meeting while Deputy Mayor Cherie Rutherford is on approved leave.

"The Local Government Act 2009 states that a councillor must take leave without pay for the duration of the period for which the councillor is a candidate, within the meaning of the Electoral Act, for election as a member of the Legislative Assembly,” Mr Cheesman said.

"A report will be presented at tomorrow's Council meeting with Councillors to decide on who will fill the position of Acting Mayor during the campaign.

"If Margaret Strelow is unsuccessful, she will return to the role of Mayor. If she is successful, a by-election will be called within 12 weeks with candidates called for to run for the position of Mayor.”

READ: Rocky council votes in Acting Mayor after Strelow bombshell

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said through Labor's pre-selection process, local members chose Barry O'Rourke as the candidate for Rockhampton.

"I understand Margaret Strelow was disappointed in the result,” Ms Palaszczuk said. 

"Barry is passionate about the Rockhampton community and he will fight each and every day to ensure the people of Rockhampton have a strong voice. 

"Labor representatives have always worked hard for the great city of Rockhampton and I know Barry will continue in that tradition.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with Rockhampton candidate Barry O'Rourke and Keppel candidate Brittany Lauga.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with Rockhampton candidate Barry O'Rourke and Keppel candidate Brittany Lauga. Allan Reinikka ROK021117apalaszc

Rockhampton's Labor candidate Barry O'Rourke said he would not be drawn on his chances against Ms Strelow opting to remain focused on his own grass roots campaign which had seen a number of significant funding announcements made in the past week.

Mr O'Rourke acknowledged that there was a risk a Labor vote could be split but he hoped that people would see that Labor had a history of delivering for the region and he intended to put his best foot forward.

"I am the Labor candidate and I would hope that those people who vote Labor would see what has been delivered here to Rocky that Labor has a proven track record and I would like to continue to be that strong voice for the region.”

LNP candidate for Rockhampton Douglas Rodgers said the great thing about our democratic system is that a range of voices can be heard and he welcomed anyone to take part in the process.

"Central Queenslanders deserve better than a factional battle between egos in the ALP. CQ has a clear choice between the bickering status quo of the Labor Party and the positive vision and stability offered by the LNP,” Mr Rodgers said.  

Senator Matt Canavan With LNP candidate for Keppel Peter Blundell and LNP candidate for Rockhampton Douglas Rodgers (left).
Senator Matt Canavan With LNP candidate for Keppel Peter Blundell and LNP candidate for Rockhampton Douglas Rodgers (left). Allan Reinikka ROK011117acanavan

Rockhampton Senator Matt Canavan welcomed Margaret Strelow putting her hand up to run for Rockhampton.

"It is good that the people of Rockhampton have a choice,” Mr Canavan said.

"I don't think Margaret has left the Labor party, the Labor party has left Rockhampton. Labor has pulled support for Adani, refused to fund the Rookwood weir and has no plans for CQ.”

One Nation candidate for Rockhampton Wade Rothery said he believed Ms Strelow wasn't taking her elected position as mayor seriously.

One Nation candidate for Rockhampton Wade Rothery.
One Nation candidate for Rockhampton Wade Rothery. Steve Vit

"Clearly she doesn't mind climbing the ladder at everybody else's expense,” Mr Rothery said.

"She blows $18m of ratepayers money on a billionaire's runway and this stunt leaves a town rudderless for the next few weeks.

"This is either a case of a very fractured Labor Party with very public signs of cracks emerging, or Labor are that worried about One Nation this election they're putting two candidates forward to combat the surge of votes Pauline Hanson and I are taking from the two tired old parties.”



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