The incumbent Gympie Regional Council during its last ordinary meeting before the 2020 election, March 4 2020. From left: Glen Hartwig, Dan Stewart, Bob Fredman, Deputy Mayor Bob Leitch, Mayor Mick Curran, Mark McDonald, Mal Gear, Hilary Smerdon and Daryl Dodt.
The incumbent Gympie Regional Council during its last ordinary meeting before the 2020 election, March 4 2020. From left: Glen Hartwig, Dan Stewart, Bob Fredman, Deputy Mayor Bob Leitch, Mayor Mick Curran, Mark McDonald, Mal Gear, Hilary Smerdon and Daryl Dodt.

Mayor: Small minority have given CEO ‘raw deal’

INCUMBENT Gympie Mayor Mick Curran heaped praise on CEO Bernard Smith and all Gympie Regional Council staff in an emotional address during yesterday’s final ordinary meeting before election time.

Mr Curran acknowledged the close of the current council’s four-year term in a Mayoral Minute delivered at the close of a meeting full of fireworks surrounding controversial topics including the collapse of Ri-Con contractors and the long-delayed report into the Mary Valley Rattler’s multimillion-dollar blowouts.

The incumbent Gympie Regional Council during its last ordinary meeting before the 2020 election, March 4 2020. From left: Glen Hartwig, Dan Stewart, Bob Fredman, Deputy Mayor Bob Leitch, Mayor Mick Curran, Mark McDonald, Mal Gear, Hilary Smerdon and Daryl Dodt.
The incumbent Gympie Regional Council during its last ordinary meeting before the 2020 election, March 4 2020. From left: Glen Hartwig, Dan Stewart, Bob Fredman, Deputy Mayor Bob Leitch, Mayor Mick Curran, Mark McDonald, Mal Gear, Hilary Smerdon and Daryl Dodt.

A visibly emotional Mr Curran said Mr Smith’s leadership of the entire council staff “cannot be underestimated” before offering a “very sincere apology”.

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“Why do I do this? Because as a local who has worked closely with you over the previous eight years – five of those as Mayor – I believe you have had a very raw deal from a small minority of our local long-term Gympie community members who, in my personal opinion, have attempted to erroneously undermine your personal character, work ethic and unquestionable honesty in your role as the CEO of our organisation,” Mr Curran said.

“I will tell you this, having been recognised at the highest level in my previous working life, I would have you in the trenches each and every day.”

CEO Bernard Smith and Mayor Mick Curran during the Gympie Regional Council ordinary meeting on March 4, 2020.
CEO Bernard Smith and Mayor Mick Curran during the Gympie Regional Council ordinary meeting on March 4, 2020.

He said it “would be remiss” not to thank the 500-plus council staff for their efforts over the four-year term, going on to thank each department and its staff individually.

Mr Curran closed by praising his fellow councillors for their “decorum and respect” throughout the term.

Not every councillor praised the speech, with Division 6 incumbent Hilary Smerdon telling the Mayor “I think the way you went about it was a little bit over the top”.

“Through the meeting he told us not to politicise anything and he did exactly what he told us not to do,” Mr Smerdon said after the meeting.

“I was all for him thanking staff, but it was more like a meet the candidates meeting. You can thank staff for five minutes, but to sit up there for ten minutes and go through every department was a bit over the top.”

Councillors Mark McDonald and Daryl Dodt spoke in defence of the minute, with the latter saying “It’s strange that if you say something negative about council it doesn’t seem to be political, but if you congratulate people for a job well done suddenly people call it political”.

The council unanimously endorsed Mr Curran’s motion to “(give) a vote of thanks and recognition to all … staff for their dedication, efforts and contributions for elected representatives and our wider community over the previous term”.