WAR NOT OVER: Hooper pledges to fight legislation changes
CHRIS ‘PINEAPPLE’ Hooper has declared he will fight the legislation changes that would prevent him from automatically becoming Rockhampton’s new mayor and if there was to be a by-election, he would begin legal action.
He has even vowed to purchase a new pair of thongs to resume the role and only take a salary of $1.
It comes after Margaret Strelow made the shock decision to resign as mayor on Monday, less than 12 months after being elected.
Speaking to The Morning Bulletin this morning, Mr Hooper cited the Local Government Act sections and said he had full intention of arguing a case that he lawfully should be mayor.
The Local Government Act 2009, section 166A states “the chief executive officer must ask the electoral commission to give a vacancy notice to the runner-up who is first in the order of priority”.
The act goes on to state if the runner up accepts the position before the deadline, “the electoral commission must notify the chief executive officer that the runner-up has consented; and the local government must fill the vacant office by appointing the runner-up”.
The Queensland Government announced on Tuesday morning it would change this Act, with Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe declaring once the new parliament was sworn in, the Palaszczuk Government would introduce and pass a bill to retrospectively amend it.
Mr Hooper said he and some friends, including a pro-bono lawyer, had been looking into “technical bits” of the Local Government Act 2009.
He said he had spoken with Rockhampton Regional Council CEO Evan Pardon and told him he planned on accepting the mayoral job.
Mr Hooper said he needed to be notified of the position so he could accept it formally.
He believed he would not get this notification until January, as “council and the government want to drag it out” because they “don’t want him to be mayor”.
He plans to speak to the Electoral Commission of Queensland today.
“It’s not whether they like me or not, the government just can’t change the law when it doesn’t suit them,” he said.
“The law says that I am and Electoral Commission has to approve it.”
When asked if Councillor Neil Fisher should be Acting Mayor, Mr Hooper defiantly said “no” straight away.
“He’s pro Adani, that’s not on,” he claimed.
If the act is reversed in parliament, Mr Hooper confidently said he would run in the by-election.
“I will do the right thing, I will get the sympathy vote because there is a lot of people who aren’t happy about what is happening,” he said.
“It’s not very good democracy when they make the rules and then change the rules again.
“We’re getting a fair bit of support.”
If he doesn’t win this battle now and the by-election does happen, Mr Hooper also claimed he would begin legal action.
“But if Annastacia is going to reverse, that’s when it (legal action) will start,” he said.
If he was to become mayor, Mr Hooper plans on only taking $1 as a salary, as he has previously pledged before, because he wants to do it for his community.
“I couldn’t give a s--- about money,” he said.
“I’m reasonably set up to not worry about money.
“People have to know when to get off the merry-go-round, they are stuck in it and they get greedy and want to earn more money and then they worry about money until they are dead.”
When asked what he had to say to the people who didn’t want him as mayor, his response was a quote by Jimmy Little: “racism is the fear of the unknown”.
“All of those people who are making comments about me wouldn’t know me from a bar of soap,” Mr Hooper said.
He said he’d had his East St shop for eight years and payed $1270 a month and his landlord thought he was the “best tenant ever”.
“I don’t worry about it, they (the people talking about him) can suck eggs,” Mr Hooper said.
“If people want to sit down and talk to me about it, I will talk to them.”
And if Mr Hooper, who has been dubbed as the ‘the barefoot mayor’ does get in as mayor, he pledged to “buy a new pair of thongs”.
Minister Hinchliffe has been approached for further comment.
Rockhampton Regional Council has confirmed that CEO Evan Pardon has written to ECQ, fulfilling his obligations under the act.