Mayor explains meeting before $3 million tender awarded
The Whitsunday Regional Council has met for the final time for 2020, capping off a big year in motions brought before councillors.
Here’s what you may have missed.
Mayoral minute after meeting
The Whitsunday Regional Council supported Mayor Andrew Willcox’s ability to debate and vote on the Flagstaff Hill redevelopment after it was revealed he met with prospective proponents.
In a mayoral minute tabled at the final council meeting of the year, Cr Willcox said he and council chief executive Rod Ferguson met with representatives of WHF Group at the Austral Hotel in Mackay on October 15 this year.
The meeting was to “discuss the thoughts of those representatives on council’s procurement processes”.
“At that meeting there were some discussions towards the end of the meeting led by representatives of the WHF Group about the Flagstaff Hill redevelopment and the tender process associated with that project,” the mayoral minute read.
“Unbeknownst to the CEO at the time of the meeting, it was subsequently discovered that the WHF Group had lodged a tender submission for the Flagstaff Hill redevelopment.”
Cr Willcox said the company representatives did not disclose the tender, and both he and Mr Ferguson gave “no assurances of any kind” to the other parties in the meeting.
“The WHF Group (and its representatives) are not a ‘close associate’ nor a ‘related party’ and the CEO has no equivalent relationship,” the minute said.
“I have considered my position in this matter and am firmly of the opinion that I can participate in the debate and vote on this matter in the public interest.”
The council, in a six to one vote, agreed, and Cr Willcox was therefore able to participate in the debate on the tender award which ultimately went to Hutchinson’s Builders.
Acting CEO for Christmas
The council was unanimous in appointing Matthew Fanning as Acting CEO, effective from December 23 to January 10.
Mr Fanning is the director of infrastructure services, and will act as CEO while Rod Ferguson is on leave.
The council also approved a delegation to the mayor to “appoint an acting chief executive officer for all periods of absence of the chief executive officer”.
The council has kept a degree of distance between a new group with political ties that will lobby for better insurance arrangements and elected councillors.
Division 1 Councillor Jan Clifford was approached to represent the council on the Northern Australia Insurance Lobby, an incorporated association that would push for better insurance arrangements.
Margaret Shaw approached Cr Clifford to “join the association as council’s representative”.
“A number of investigations have been conducted to enquire into insurance coverage and premiums for Northern Australia and the Northern Australia Insurance Premium taskforce was established as part of the political response to the rapid rise in insurance premiums in areas of northern Australia subject to cyclone risk,” council documents stated.
“Over the past few years, some regions in northern Australia experience a significant increase in premiums over a short period of time.
“This has been particularly noticeable in northern Queensland and in some parts of north Western Australia.
“A range of inquiries have looked at the causes of the rise and have found that insurers are now increasingly pricing premiums to align more closely with the risk of damage to (and therefore claims by) individual properties.
“At the same time, losses from a number of cyclone events prompted insurers to reassess cyclone risk, resulting in premium increases in northern Australia.”
The council was unanimous in its vote, supporting the work of the lobby group and its “objectives to achieve better insurance coverage and lower policy costs”.
However, the full council did not believe “it is appropriate for council to be involved in campaigns for or against political parties as identified in the lobby’s website”.
“(The council) does not support the appointment of a council representative given the potential political nature of the association,” it said.
COVID hits home builder
The economic impacts of COVID forced the council to rescind a tender for the sale of land in Cannonvale.
Moloko Homes was awarded the tender for 42-46 Carlo Dr on February 26 this year.
“However, due to the current economic climate with COVID-19, council was advised that the contract of sale could not be fulfilled,” council documents stated.
Councillors were unanimous in adopting the recommendation the council rescind the tender award.
Moloko Homes was the sole tenderer for the land.
The council further resolved the land be placed on the market for sale.
Support for grassroots sports
The Bowen Sporting Complex received a very welcome $20,000 Christmas gift at the council’s final meeting of 2020.
“Council offers annual funding to grassroots organisations across the region that manage multi-use council facilities,” the council documents state.
To that end, the Bowen Sporting Complex association received the Sport and recreation Facility Management Grant under the council’s community donations policy.
The motion was carried unanimously.
The council also approved $10,000 in grants to five sporting clubs at the final meeting of the year.
The Bowen Tennis Association and Proserpine BMX Club were approved for $1500, the Bowen Touch Association and Whitsunday Touch Association each approved $3000, and the Collinsville Horse and Pony Club received $1000.
The funds support the general functions of the club.
It’s been a long time coming but now it’s expected Flagstaff Hill Cultural and Conference Centre could be rebuilt in less than a year after a new company was selected to spearhead the project.
Hutchinson Builders was awarded the design and construction tender for the centre, which was damaged during Cyclone Debbie.
A tender was originally awarded for the rebuild in February this year to Beep Beep Pty Ltd, trading as Richardson’s Building Service.
A long history of voluntary aged care in Collinsville has come to a close with a Whitsunday councillor saying the sale of a living facility marks the “end of an era”.
At the Whitsunday Regional Council meeting on Wednesday, councillors formally acknowledged the completion of the sale of the Collinsville Independent Living Facility.
The facility has been purchased by Jangaa Operations Pty Ltd, with the council negotiating a sale price of $540,000.
During the meeting, Division 6 Councillor Mike Brunker took the opportunity to acknowledge the significance of the sale.
Three major projects in the Whitsundays will be put forward to share a large chunk of funds offered to the region for COVID recovery.
The Federal Government has made an offer of $1,629,782 to the Whitsunday Regional Council as part of the government’s COIVD-19 stimulus response.
A concept plan for a new mountain bike trail network has been revealed, giving a glimpse into where paths could be built under the proposed project.
Whitsunday Regional Council engaged Dirt Art to develop the concept plan, which councillors resolved to send out to the community and stakeholders for consultation at the last council meeting of the year.
A feedback report will be prepared for the councillors.
Questions were raised about risk and insurance during the council meeting, but council’s development services director Neil McGaffin said it was a work in progress.
Tensions have flared between a community group and Whitsunday councillor over the future direction of the Airlie Beach.
Save Our Foreshore released a statement after a heated speech from Councillor Mike Brunker at the final council meeting for the year.
In the meeting, councillors were discussing the Airlie Beach Local Plan and its inclusion in the major amendment to the Whitsunday Planning Scheme 2017.
Save Our Foreshore secretary/treasurer Faye Chapman sent a question to councillors on behalf of the group, querying why a statement was added to the Local Plan which read: “Redevelopment in the main street and or adjoining the foreshore is encouraged at higher density”.