Former MP opens up about new life in council
SEAN Choat has shed the shackles of LNP party bureaucracy and is loving his new role as a Somerset councillor.
Cr Choat, almost a year in his new role, lost the 2015 election as Ipswich West MP but a year later found himself in a role that suits him far better.
The Somerset councillor always cast himself as a maverick and a grass roots style of politician in his days as an MP .
The LNP is yet to preselect its Ipswich West candidate for the next state election but Cr Choat has ruled out any return to state politics despite being asked to return to the fray.
He told the QT that he had now found his calling and was enjoying working with Mayor Graeme Lehmann, CEO Robert Bain and his fellow councillors.
"The main thing I am enjoying as a councillor is the ability to focus very keenly on the people and their issues," Cr Choat said.
"I have found it to be really rewarding to do that grass roots stuff and not have to clear anything and everything by someone else.
"Not that I followed the strict (LNP) line of doing things back in the day, but I have no regrets about that.
"This role does suit me down to the ground.
"The way the people of the Somerset embrace their council and understand how it works is very impressive."
Mr Choat said that one of the most rewarding aspects of his role was being able to listen to public concerns and then act quickly in response.
"One of the quite notable things that has happened recently is with regard to our local laws on keeping dogs, where under current laws you can only have two dogs registered regardless of the size of your property" he said.
"Otherwise you have to have a kennel licence.
"While dogs are the number one nuisance issue council has to deal with, we have some wonderful people who want to show a handful of dogs.
"So council has come up with some proposed changes to the laws that have gone out to the community which have been well received.
"So under certain conditions like the size of your property and being able to show that you care for the dogs, you will be able to have more dogs in the Somerset than just the two.
"Council's response shows that we are prepared to listen and change things."
Cr Choat said there were other aspects of Somerset Regional Council that had impressed him.
"We have no debt, we have in excess of $60 million in the bank and our residents have the cheapest rates in Queensland I have on good authority," he said.
"Having that money in the bank sees in excess of $2 million a year come into our budget that we can use on fixing roads and other things which we wouldn't have if we didn't have that investment.
"It also makes us very successful when we apply for dollar for dollar grants because one of the categories they look at is whether a council can meet their obligations in terms of capital funding, and in the Somerset we can."
As for the next state election, Cr Choat put to bed any suggestion he would run again in Ipswich West.
"I have been asked but my answer is no," he said.
"But Ipswich West remains dear to my heart and I hope that the LNP will select a strong candidate."