What happens to Rocky if Strelow can’t serve?
ROCKHAMPTON Mayor Margaret Strelow has been left reeling after it was revealed an unelected mayor would be sworn in should she die during the first year of her current term.
It comes after amendments were voted in through members of Queensland Parliament on its Local Government Act, which details the events that would unfold should the position of mayor become vacant.
In the meeting late last week it was learned the runner-up in a city’s local election would be appointed mayor and serve out the remainder of their inherited term.
For Rockhampton, it means former mayoral candidate and Greens representative Chris ‘Pineapple’ Hooper would stand in as Cr Strelow’s replacement.
The 67-year-old pensioner was the sole contender to run against then-incumbent Cr Strelow in Rockhampton Regional Council’s local elections this past March.
Results for the election, however, were overwhelmingly in favour of Mayor Strelow after she claimed close to 69 per cent of votes. Mr Hooper totalled only 31 per cent.
Cr Strelow slammed the new amendment, labelling it an act of “absolute arrogance.”
She said the state’s decision represented a complete lack of regard for the democratic process, along with a deep disdain for the people of Rockhampton region.
“If I get run over by a bus within the first 12 months of this term you would go nearly a full four year term without an elected Mayor. You get the next in line,” she said.
Instead Cr Strelow suggested the logical decision would be to provide the community a chance to determine who they wanted to see in office through a by-election.
“Rockhampton deserves the opportunity to vote for a new mayor if I get run over by a bus in the first three years. That’s democracy.”
She also spoke of her disappointment after learning Rockhampton MP Barry O’Rourke had voted for the amendments.
“It makes no sense. If a replacement mayor needs to be found in the first 12 months, then there’s no election. But if you only need a mayor for the last three years or for two years then there’s an election. Where is the logic in that?”
Mr O’Rourke defended his decision, saying it was simply a cost-saving measure for ratepayers in the very unlikely event this happened.
“The last thing ratepayers need is to be hit with the expense of having to head to the polls to choose their mayor twice in 12 months,” he said.
He added he hoped to never see this rule come into effect.