In the Mary Valley's Division 8, James Cochrane has defeated incumbent Julie Walker by a convincing 176 votes.
In the Mary Valley's Division 8, James Cochrane has defeated incumbent Julie Walker by a convincing 176 votes. Patrick Woods

Last minute election shock

HYDROTHERAPY advocate Hilary Smerdon has defeated Gympie Regional Council's Division 6 incumbent Ray Currie in an upset win on preferences.

And hydrotherapy opponent Daryl Dodt was a clear winner in Gympie's urban Division 4.

In the Mary Valley's Division 8, James Cochrane has defeated incumbent Julie Walker by a convincing 176 votes.

Electoral Commission Queensland returning officer Ken Garner announced the results of last night's final counting just after 6pm.

He said Mr Smerdon (pictured below) had won on preferences by 17 votes, overcoming what had appeared to be a comfortable lead on primary votes for Mr Currie.


Hilary Smerdon
Hilary Smerdon
















Dr Dodt won by a comfortable 88 votes from Graham Engeman in the hotly contested Division 4, formerly held by long serving councillor Wayne Sachs, who came third in the count.

Candidates Ross Caulfield and Glenn Tierney ran fourth and fifth in the Division 4 count.

Mr Garner last week declared victory for Mayor Mick Curran and Division 7 incumbent Bob Leitch, as well as new councillors Glen Hartwig and Mal Gear.

Mr Hartwig defeated Division 2 incumbent Rae Gate and Mal Gear has taken over the division formerly held by retired ex-councillor Ian Petersen.

Formal declaration of all results is expected today.

Although Cooloola Coast incumbent Mark McDonald has already claimed victory in Division 1, it has not yet been formally declared.

At last count, Dan Stewart was well ahead in Division 5, formerly held by retired ex-councillor Larry Friske.

The result means a new-look council with six new faces out of eight councillors and no female representatives.

Cr Curran only narrowly won last year's mayoral by election, defeating rival Ian Petersen, who did not contest the mayoralty at this month's general election.

Mr Curran became a rare survivor in the Wide Bay region, now being the only sitting mayor from Noosa to Bundaberg to retain his position.

Across Queensland, the Local Government Association of Queensland estimated 29 new mayors would take office, three of them along the Wide Bay-Burnett coast, in the councils of Noosa, Fraser Coast and Bundaberg.

It is believed to be the first time in more than 37 years the councils of the Gympie region have not had any female representation.

In the late 1980s, Joan Dodt, mother of Division 4 councillor-elect Daryl Dodt, became mayor, defeating Mick Venardos, who later reclaimed the mayoralty, before being defeated by ex-Kilkivan mayor Ron Dyne.

Ray Currie was CEO of Kilkivan shire under Cr Dyne's leadership there.

Mr Garner said results in all remaining divisions will be declared today, including in the three where counting finished last night.

Mr Hartwig has announced his top priority for the council is "to restore ratepayers' faith in the council by ensuring that councillors exercise their responsibilities and take an active role in ensuring council functions appropriately."

Mr Gear says he wants "to ensure the council functions well and avoid disharmony, working as a team".


Daryl Dodt
Daryl Dodt

















Mr Dodt (pictured above) wants upgraded services and facilities, including health and education, roads and infrastructure.

Mr Smerdon says his top priority is "to regain the trust of the electorate and deliver a cost efficient, accountable council that listens to the electorate."