REVEALED: Councillor keen to replace Peter Wellington
EXCLUSIVE: A LONG-time Sunshine Coast councillor is "seriously considering" making the leap into state politics at the next election due in October.
There are rumours an election will be called sooner than that, and the Sunshine Coast seat of Nicklin soon to be vacated by departing Independent Speaker Peter Wellington is tempting one local councillor to contemplate ditching his current job to seek election.
Division 10 Councillor Greg Rogerson said a move into State Parliament had been on his mind for "several years" due to what he perceived to be "inadequate representation" in a subtle swipe at Mr Wellington, who last week announced he would be stepping down from politics for family reasons.
Cr Rogerson said he was seriously considering a move and if he did, he would stand for election on a "conservative platform".
He told the Daily he had been approached by a number of political parties, but added if he was to stand for a major party he would be making clear he was prepared to vote against party policies if they didn't align with the electorate.
He said a lack of action on a number of issues, namely the sealing of a section of Obi Obi Rd and widening of road between Kenilworth and Conondale, car parking at Nambour Hospital and rail duplication through to Nambour, were driving him to consider contesting the seat.
Mr Wellington said rail duplication couldn't be be funded without federal government support.
He said the former Abbott Government had not committed to supporting public rail infrastructure in Queensland, but noted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had since said he would support.
Cr Rogerson said the size of Nambour and predicted growth in the area were also at the forefront of his mind, as he was keen to deliver on a number of major projects in the region and "leave a legacy for a great community", which he said would grow by nearly 40% by 2026.
Cr Rogerson said he could understand the electorate's angst with the two major parties but he also added he felt some other political parties throwing their hat in the ring as an alternative "go too far to the right and too extreme" in some of their views and policies.
When asked why he wouldn't run as an Independent, Cr Rogerson said he was concerned if he did and a major party won government he could end up frozen out on the backbench, unable to secure funding for projects in the electorate.
Mr Wellington told the Daily last week he would be prepared to support a candidate if he felt others seeking election didn't have the electorate's best interests at heart.
There appears to be some friction between the pair.
Cr Rogerson said Mr Wellington had supported him in entering politics in 2004, but the pair's relationship had soured after differences of opinion over the controversial Montville Links development application.
Cr Rogerson said he'd addressed Montville Links at the time "for the betterment of the whole community".
In relation to the Links development proposal at Montville Mr Wellington said he had been able to get the Premier to overturn the Natoli council's decision to ignore the recommendations of their officers and approve it.
"When the Premier called it in requesting the council to show why it was not complying with its own planning scheme it had staff draft the reasons for overturning the position they had recommended," he said.
"Steve Dickson was the chair of planning at the time."
Mr Wellington said there was significant state government interest in the iconic Blackall Ranges.
"Council was not complying with its own planning scheme," he said.
"The state government doesn't interfere lightly. That it did shows how wrong the council decision was."
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Cr Rogerson added he was not enjoying the support of his wife and family at the moment as he considered the move, and that any decision to stand would have to be made with his family.
He said he was interested to see who stood and if he considered another candidate to be of "real credibility" and in it for the right reasons, it could "alleviate necessity" for him to contest the seat.
Mr Wellington said at this stage he was reluctant to involve himself in any campaigns, noting there was still a long way to go until the next election.
"Let's wait and see what candidates are endorsed by the political parties," he said.
"I have a lot of confidence in the constituents to number every box and to put last the candidate they least want to represent them.
"At this stage I don't intend to get involved in any campaign."
Mr Wellington said in the hinterland he had helped secure Kenilworth ambulance funding as well as an investigation into the best Obi Obi Road corridor.
He said when the council had withdrawn its support for the Hinterland Connect bus he had spoken with the Deputy Premier who had offered to meet the full cost.
"In government the LNP had required the council to pick up half the cost," he said.
"With the change of government Annastacia Palaszczuk has met the cost and made funding recurrent."