‘Six mayors united’: Otto‘s big plans for WBBROC
THE South Burnett Regional Council voted to nominate Mayor Brett Otto for the position of Wide Bay Burnett Regional Organisation of Councils Chair, seeking to strengthen ties between the six WBBROC mayors and ensure the needs of the South Burnett are being met.
WBBROC was formed in 1999 to represent the interests of all councils within the Wide Bay Burnett region and advocates to Federal and State Governments on matters of common interest to the South Burnett, North Burnett, Cherbourg, Fraser Coast, Gympie, and Bundaberg Regional Councils.
Bundaberg Regional Council Mayor Jack Dempsey recently resigned as WBBROC Chair, meaning that North Burnett Regional Council Mayor Rachel Chambers will step into that position for the time being. Should she choose not to take on the role, with the support of the councillors, Mayor Brett Otto will be nominated as Chair.
“It is my view that our council, through myself and the support of CEO Mark, have a significant amount of experience both in terms of organisational restructuring, from my business experience, and Mark has a wealth of experience and capabilities in relation to corporate governance,” Mayor Otto said.
“WBBROC needs that strong capable leadership to move forward in terms of restructuring its operations.”
Mayor Otto said the capacity to advocate to the federal government for significant Building Better Regions Funding (BBRF) requires a high level of strategic and political advocacy, and the collective experience of the WBBROC mayor‘s is hugely beneficial to the region.
Cr Kirstie Schumacher said after careful consideration, she cannot support the nomination since it will redirect the Mayor‘s attention away from important work that needs to be done here in the South Burnett.
“Since the beginning of council, I’ve had significant concerns about the dysfunction of WBBROC and challenged on numerous occasions what value it actually provides us here in the South Burnett,” she said.
“While I understand the need to collaborate with our neighbouring councils to advocate for our fair share of state and federal funding, since commencing this term of council our involvement in WBBROC has seen one saga after another.”
She said for this coalition of councils to be effective, WBBROC has a “giant task ahead of it” in terms of “resetting its strategic direction and delivering value for its members”.
Standing in support of the nomination, Cr Kathy Duff said WBBROC has recently been too focused on the Bundaberg and Maryborough regions, and the South and North Burnett were often “left out”.
“If we could have the Chair, we’re certainly not going to be left behind like we have felt in the past,” she said.
“I don’t think the time spent on WBBROC will be wasted, I think it would actually enhance what we do as a council.”
Cr Gavin Jones said the opinion that WBBROC is “performing very poorly” at the moment is agreed upon by the six mayors.
“When it was first started, it was a very successful advocacy situation for our region, and I can’t see any bad things coming from our Mayor being the Chair of WBBROC moving forward.”
“The reality is, Bundaberg and Fraser Coast can do it on their own. They don’t need WBBROC, but we do.”
“We need the support of Bundaberg and Fraser Coast simply because we’re a small regional council, and if we go to Canberra and have them supporting us, I think it’s only a good thing.”
The motion was passed six to one, with Cr Gavin Jones, Cr Roz Frohloff, Cr Danita Potter, Cr Scott Henschen and Cr Kathy Duff voting in favour.
Cr Kirstie Schumacher opposed the motion.
Mayor Otto said he will not proceed with the nomination until all the councillors are on board.