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CEO GONE

GONE: Whitsunday Regional Council's CEO John Finlay resigned from his role last week and left almost immediately. He is pictured here at Council's organisational review meeting, where it was announced that he would have to re-apply for his job.
GONE: Whitsunday Regional Council's CEO John Finlay resigned from his role last week and left almost immediately. He is pictured here at Council's organisational review meeting, where it was announced that he would have to re-apply for his job.

WHITSUNDAY Regional Council's CEO John Finlay has resigned from his role saying he will "pursue new pathways".

Mr Finlay tendered his resignation last Thursday, October 25 and left almost immediately but would not comment on the reasons or abruptness of his departure.

"It's been an honour to have the opportunity to work in the Bowen Shire and Whitsunday Regional Councils," he told the Whitsunday Times this week.

"I've been blessed with having the opportunity of working with great and amazing people within Council and the community for the benefit of the community and I've made life-long friends and I guess my wife has as well," he said.

Whitsunday mayor Jennifer Whitney was also reluctant to comment on the how and why of the CEO's resignation.

"At the moment all I'm prepared to say is that he has resigned," she said on Tuesday night.

Former mayor Mike Brunker said he felt Mr Finlay may have been perceived as being too close to the previous administration.

"I think there's been a bit of a witch hunt for senior staff since the election was lost," he said.

Two months ago, Mr Finlay was among senior staff members who were told their jobs would be advertised externally as part of Council's independent organisational review.

At the time of the announcement, Mr Finlay said he "absolutely" intended to apply.

Mr Finlay started work with the Bowen Shire Council as a director of financial services under mayor Col Leather in 1996. In 1998 he became director of corporate financial services when the two departments merged. This was also a deputy CEO's position and in 2004 he stepped into the major role.

"Then in 2008, when we amalgamated, the Council advertised externally for the position of CEO, for which I applied and was successful with that application," he said.

Mr Brunker described Mr Finlay as "probably one of the most respected financial CEO's around in the state".   

"He was instrumental in turning Bowen around from their financial woes in '97 and of course we had to do the same thing again in 2008 with the amalgamated councils," he said.   

Mr Finlay said the highlights of his time as Whitsunday Regional Council CEO from an infrastructure point of view included the upgrades to the Cannonvale and Proserpine sewage plants, water treatment plants for Proserpine and Bowen and the upgrade to the Airlie main street.  

He said his most memorable moments were being involved in giving permission for the 'Behind the Cane' and 'Whitsunday LIVE' productions and the blockbuster film 'Australia', which was filmed in Bowen.  

"They came to us and said they wanted to run cattle down the main street of Bowen.We were just thinking of all sorts of implications but we said yes and when you watch the movie it's one of the most amazing bits," he said.

"And that's what it's all about - making little decisions like that to make things happen." Mr Finlay said after 33 years of working for councils he would "possibly miss it".  

"But it depends on what my new pathway is," he said.

  Cr Whitney confirmed on Tuesday that the former business development manager of Whitsunday Coast Airport Scott Waters would stand in as acting CEO pending further discussion at the Council meeting yesterday.  

At the time of going to press, the mayor was not available for an update or further comment.   


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