Tense, petty moments at divided Gympie Council meeting
TERSE words, a withdrawn comment and disputed events made for a tense and at times petty Gympie council meeting yesterday.
Regular sparring partners Mayor Mick Curran and Cr Glen Hartwig were each rebuffed early over matters that had taken place behind closed council doors.
The discord started when Cr Hartwig disagreed with the unconfirmed minutes of the August meeting and moved they be amended.
He said he had not declared a "material personal interest” as stated in the minutes, and moved it be changed to "conflict of interest”.
"Someone else made that statement,” he said of the debate, which had taken place in committee.
At question was work Cr Hartwig's private company, Cooloola Sandblasting, did on a Rattler bridge for a contractor in January last year.
Cr Hartwig apologised last November for failing to notify the council of a "perceived conflict of interest” over the work and has declared it as a conflict of interest at two subsequent council meetings.
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Cr Mark McDonald objected to the motion and said he "clearly heard” Cr Hartwig make the "material personal interest” declaration at the meeting.
However, Cr Dan Stewart supported Cr Hartwig's motion and said the matter had been robustly debated and was made clear it was a "conflict of interest”.
"We've discussed this issue at probably three different meetings I think,” he said.
But it was declared as an MPI at the July 24 meeting, which Mayor Mick Curran said all councillors, including Hartwig, had endorsed without objection.
"It (an MPI) does not evaporate from week to week,” Cr Curran said.
"The matter doesn't go away.”
Cr Hartwig said it was the mayor who had labelled it an MPI, not himself as he had no "financial gain” from any transfer of the rolling stock to the Rattler Railway Company.
It was a position he repeated yesterday.
"I have no financial interest in the Rattler,” he said.
Cr Curran then called for a vote on the motion as "there's different versions here”.
Cr Hartwig's motion to amend the minutes failed 4-5, with support from Crs Stewart, Hilary Smerdon and Bob Fredman.
Tension between Crs Curran and Hartwig continued into the next agenda item concerning environmental protections in Gympie's planning scheme.
When Cr Hartwig tried to question staff over whether the proposed new maps would add any burden to landowners, Cr Curran said the matter had already been discussed "at length”.
"They were well covered in the briefings,” he said.
When Cr Hartwig said the topic should be discussed in the meeting for the public's benefit as (the public) "didn't attend the briefings”, Cr Curran said "and neither did you”.
The meeting's progress was then interrupted by Cr Hartwig, who said the Mayor's reply was uncalled for as he (Cr Hartwig) had been required at a prior engagement.
Cr Curran said he was "happy to withdraw the comment”.