BIZARRE: Mystery surrounds odd change to council report

Gympie Regional Council's internal actions have again caused confusion with the discovery that part of its Environment Strategy, adopted in 2018, was changed without councillors' approval.

In May 2018, Gympie councillors unanimously adopted the Environment Strategy 2018-2023, "as attached" to the agenda for the meeting.

The attached document stated the council would monitor the use of money raised by the $38.50 environment levy paid by every ratepayer through annual reporting.

Gympie councillors endorsed an environment strategy which would “investigate” the creation of an annual report of its environment levy.
Gympie councillors endorsed an environment strategy which would “investigate” the creation of an annual report of its environment levy.

For this, it said, the creation of an Environment Levy Annual Report "will be investigated" as an alternative report card.

However, this line was changed when the document was published on the council website, to say the report "will be developed" instead of simply investigated.

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Council CEO Shane Gray said at this time the council was "unable to clarify why the change was made" and that it would be fixed.

Adding to the oddity, the levy report has itself now become the centre of controversy.

The strategy uploaded to the council’s website after it was endorsed said the environment report would not simply be investigated but actually developed.
The strategy uploaded to the council’s website after it was endorsed said the environment report would not simply be investigated but actually developed.

Conservation groups have called for the publication of the 2018-19 report, criticising the new council for declining requests for its release as contrary to its commitment to transparency as part of a wider attack over "unprecedented" funding delays.

Mr Gray said in response late last week the council could not release such a report as it had not been produced. Early this week he said a search of the council's systems turned up a draft document "in an old email" that had never been approved or endorsed by the council.

"A hard copy of this document was given to councillors in May 2020 as part of an induction process, however as the document was not approved, has not been placed on council's website," Mr Gray said.

Mr Gray said the document will be brought to a future council meeting for consideration.