Fredman 'not sacked' and water not for sale: Curran
GYMPIE Region Mayor Mick Curran has denied, "once and for all” that former council engineering director Bob Fredman was sacked.
In this exclusive interview, he also accused mayoral candidate Glen Hartwig of smearing the council and Cr Fredman; called for a more civil standard of council debate; and promised the council's water and sewerage operation will never be sold, to Unitywater or anyone else, on his watch.
He also maintained his silence on his electoral intentions and endorsed Cr Fredman's performance in furthering the wellbeing of the Mary Valley and its people.
"At the outset the last thing I want to be doing is having public arguments with councillors.
"It's always been my belief that matters should be debated in the council chamber, a democratic decision is then made and we move on.
"We're not like the two higher levels of government, where people are in Government and Opposition and it's their role to throw mud.
"I don't think local government should be like that.
"But what I want to do is just put some truth around last Saturday's report (on) council's water and sewerage operations - and another issue that's been ongoing for over three years and keeps raising its head...”
In an obvious reference to announced mayoral candidate, Glen Hartwig, Cr Curran said, "There is a quote from a mayoral candidate that with the release of (an investigation) report, people now get to see the report that was used to 'sack' Bob Fredman.
"Now that's not true - Cr Fredman actually resigned.
"It came at a time that council did review our water and sewerage operations, which was an election commitment of mine in 2016.
"So we had issues identified to us back then and in fact we were being fined by the state government (over) the way that we were conducting some of our operations.
"An independent group reviewed how we were conducting our operations (and) highlighted a number of issues, along the lines of water and sewerage (being) under-staffed, that senior staff had accrued way too much annual leave and leave wasn't being managed accordingly
"It also highlighted that there needs to be enough staff to allow interchanges or extended leave and/or transitions to retirement.
"Another issue was that infrastructure services were not delivering planned work (including) CCTV work, mains flushing, sewer investigations and minimal outsourcing of work.
"And it showed that more support was needed by that branch around finance, asset management and ICT.
"So what happened from there, on the 28th of September 2016. a report went to council, which was intertwined with staffing issues and as a result council made a recommendation that the structure and management of the water supply and sewerage operations had to change.
"Now in that report of last weekend it highlights the fact that the working conditions of staff (weren't) good.
"So, as I said, council at the 28th of September 2016 voted for change.
"That's on public record. Our meeting minutes are published for all to see, but of interest whilst the mayoral candidate says that those conditions were terrible, (he) voted against that change.
”He had a chance to change what he was complaining about and he didn't step up to the plate, in fact he voted against making change for the betterment not only of the organisation, but also the staff attached to water and sewerage.
"But let's get back to the issue where once again it's been (claimed) that a long-serving staff member and now councillor was sacked.
"Cr Fredman in his election campaign has publicly stated that he resigned.
"It's an issue that we do not need to keep repeating.
"Each time it is brought up is misleading our community.
"But, more importantly I believe it's damaging the reputation of Bob Fredman who spent 40 years working for this organisation and is well regarded across our community.
"You know I'm a bit sick and tired of people asking me in the street why was Bob sacked.
"Bob wasn't sacked.
"The connotation around sacking is that somebody's done something wrong. That's not the case.
"He chose to retire. And I'm more than happy to supply photographic evidence.”
Asked what that would be, he said: "It's a photo of Bob's retirement send-off, which was many months after the mayoral candidate commenced telling the community that the gentleman was sacked.
"It's simply not true.
"Bob Fredman, now Cr Fredman, is doing wonderful work in his division and furthering that community in the Mary Valley and he's to be applauded.
"A decision to resign was outside of my scope and, as was reported in the media back then, I acknowledged that it was going to be a loss for the council.
"But, whilst some people are in campaign mode at the moment, an election is still a long way off.
"There's a lot of work to be done by this council before we get to that election and what I'm doing is calling on the mayoral candidate to concentrate on his councillor duties for the betterment of his division and of course not to mislead the community by continuing to say that Bob Fredman was sacked.
"I made election commitments back in 2016. I am working to achieve those commitments (by working) not only with my fellow councillors but with the staff within the organisation. The truth is we've got a wonderful organisation. We employ over 500 local people and in the main each one of those go to work each day and put in 100 per cent for not only the council but the community.
"Campaigns take up a lot of time. The time will come to go into campaign mode, but that's not now.
"I'm being remunerated as the mayor of this region at this point in time. I'm not being remunerated as a candidate for election.”