Christensen and Brent face off over Scenic Rim business strategy plans

COPYCAT: Mayoral candidate John Brent has accused council of copying his business strategy.

COPYCAT: Mayoral candidate John Brent has accused council of copying his business strategy.

MAYORAL candidate John Brent has triggered a furious response from current mayor Greg Christensen by describing the recently released Prosperity Strategy as a "poor imitation" of his own work when he was in office.

"It's a poor imitation and an expensive one and nothing new, just a rebadging of initiatives introduced in my administration," Mr Brent said.

Cr Christensen said few of the former mayor's statements had any truth to them.

"I note Mr Brent has again tried to undermine the excellent work of this term of council and the innovative solutions council has announced," he said.

"I am sure he would like his statements to be the truth. However, the facts show a very different story.

Mr Brent said council application fees and infrastructure charges were often seen as an impediment to new business

"Whilst the recognising that deferral of the infrastructure payment of these charges is welcome, the Jobs Jump Start program introduced by myself and council in the previous term saw an initial 100 per cent rebate of infrastructure charges in the short term," he said.

"Sadly, the recent announcement from the current mayor is a clone of that program and should there be any deferment it is at the discretion of council officers."

Mayor Greg Christensen says his strategy is unique and Mr Brent is clutching at straws to suggest otherwise.

Mayor Greg Christensen says his strategy is unique and Mr Brent is clutching at straws to suggest otherwise.

Mr Brent said council annual reports showed a large increase in full time employees at council, creating more bureaucracy and red tape rather than jobs in the private sector.

"The significant increase of some infrastructure charges in a number of categories introduced by the current mayor simply deter developments proceeding."

Cr Christensen said final review of Jobs Jump Start showed it did not live up to expectations.

"It certainly did not make a significant contribution to the record jobs growth achieved during this term of council which added 900 new jobs in one year.

"The new investment attraction approach is significantly different and includes components and approaches that did not exist prior to this term of council. These differences are based on the new culture we are building in council services to be customer focussed - a very different approach to the past.

"The new approach does indeed remove the operation of these programs from the realm of political influence and ensures it is administered properly and professionally, without the bureaucracy that Mr Brent refers to.

"A very clear lesson across local government since Mr Brent lost office has been the importance of avoiding mayors or councillors doing deals with developers.

"Our process is based on ensuring all applicants can rely on fair and transparent treatment.

"Mr Brent seems unable to respect the fact that our magnificent region has enjoyed exceptional growth during this term of council with a record high Gross Regional Product of $1.9 Billion and that exceptional jobs growth of 6.5 per cent in just one year.

"These have not been jobs in council - they are jobs in a wide range of businesses and industries across our region who have responded to a strong and positive approach from a fresh thinking council.

Cr Christensen said the Regional Prosperity Strategy contained pillars and actions that did not form part of any prior term council approach.

"It has been informed by working with local businesses to provide practical, meaningful solutions. Mr Brent is clutching at straws to suggest it is somehow an imitation of a prior era," he said.

"When it comes to infrastructure charges, all decisions about settings for infrastructure charges and other fees and charges are actually decided by the whole of council, not the whim of the Mayor.

"It is a further matter of fact that council has reduced some infrastructure charge categories during this term.

"Any waiving of Infrastructure charges has to be made up from the wider ratepayer base to deliver necessary infrastructure.

"It seems Mr Brent would like to go back to a prior era and exercise inappropriate control from the mayor's chair."

Mr Brent said he would reinstate his Job Start Program if elected next month.

"We also need to review discriminatory infrastructure charges that have been introduced in this term which impacts anyone considering establishing certain businesses in Scenic Rim," he said.

"I commit to a review and reversal to those found to be jobs destroying.

"If elected as mayor I will put in place again a revamped a Job Start Program, with a mix of deferral and up to 100 per cent rebate of infrastructure charges to super charge development and push forward job creation.".