Councillor Hilary Smerdon.
Councillor Hilary Smerdon.

Councillor pulls plug, slams direction of $220m asset

COUNCILLOR Hilary Smerdon has pulled the plug on his job as Gympie Regional Council's water and sewerage portfolio holder, citing dissatisfaction with the direction the council is taking the $220 million asset.

Mr Smerdon (pictured), who has held the water and since he was elected in 2016, said his decision was the due to "a build-up of frustration over the years".

"As far as I'm concerned it's no longer headed in the right direction," he said.

"I feel I've got a lack of respect as portfolio councillor.

Mr Smerdon says he does not believe the council is headed in the right direction with its water assets.
Mr Smerdon says he does not believe the council is headed in the right direction with its water assets.

"I feel like I'm told what they want me to hear."

He said last year's problems at Goomeri, when the main bore and two auxiliary ones failed, "was the straw that broke the camel's back".

The portfolio will now be held by Mayor Mick Curran until this year's election.

Mick Curran will take over the portfolio until the election.
Mick Curran will take over the portfolio until the election.

"It is disappointing that Cr Smerdon has relinquished his water and sewerage responsibilities and feels he can no longer support our hard working staff," Cr Curran said.

"I am more than happy to step up to the plate to listen to and rectify any issues that the community may have regarding water issues under this portfolio."

Mr Smerdon has had concerns about the council's plans since he was elected. In October 2016 he moved for the council to repeal a controversial decision to reorganise the council's water arm by applying the "principles of commercialisation" and establish a Water Advisory Board.

He voted against the proposed changes, with Glen Hartwig and then-councillor James Cochrane.

The motion garnered no further support and lost.

Mr Smerdon moved for the council to repeal controversial changes to its water unit in 2016. The motion was defeated.
Mr Smerdon moved for the council to repeal controversial changes to its water unit in 2016. The motion was defeated.

In a New Year's Eve social media post he said the council was using Goomeri's bores non-stop and waiting for them to fail.

Mr Curran acknowledged Goomeri's water challenges, but at no stage had the town run dry, and the town's infrastructure was never designed to deal with the current circumstances, including algae in Kinbombi Reservoir.

A spokeswoman said the council " has been very clear for almost four years that (The) council will not, and has no intention of, privatising water and sewerage services."

She said management offered to meet weekly or at any other time with Mr Smerdon, and "is not aware of any information being withheld from Cr Smerdon".

He was also a part of the water Technical Advisory Group which included water and sewerage services.

Gympie Times

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