Scenic Rim residents raise petition against how decisions are made at council meetings

PETITION: Tom Sharp and Peter Wilson are among those calling on Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to intervene in how council does business. Photo: Larraine Sathicq
PETITION: Tom Sharp and Peter Wilson are among those calling on Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to intervene in how council does business. Photo: Larraine Sathicq

An online petition accuses the Scenic Rim Regional Council of a culture of secrecy and closed decision making.

The petition demands the council "stop the rot" on how its meetings are managed, and has garnered more than 800 signatures.

But Scenic Rim Mayor Greg Christensen said the petition was offensive and based on false allegations.

"This petition is based on misinformation," he said. "Council fully complies with its obligations and requirements under legislation.

"It is blatantly and offensively false to make the claims embedded in and forming the basis to this petition."

The petition calls for Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to "intervene to stop the perceived culture of secrecy and closed decision making at SRRC".

It says councillors and executives conduct most business behind closed doors.

Leading the charge are petitioners from Beaudesert, Running Creek, Boonah, Kalbar and Tamborine Mountain.

Beechmont resident Tom Sharp, who stood against Cr Christensen at the last election, said the petition was triggered by ratepayers feeling continually ignored by council.

"What we have seen is a decision making process which, we believe, is held in secret," he said.

"This was started by the previous mayor and has been enhanced by the current one.

"Announcements made by this council often come as a surprise to people and they are very upset and angry. The people have a right to know what council is doing and how ratepayers' money is being spent."

The petitioners said Scenic Rim councillors and executives conducted most business in closed, confidential workshops over two days each fortnight.

"These workshops are effectively conducted as meetings without the presence of the media or the public," the online petition said.

"The workshops then make recommendations to the ordinary meetings.

"By excluding the public and media from these workshops, the people are effectively denied the essential information on which decisions are made.

"Councillors attending these workshops are held to secrecy that unreasonably prevents them from open communication with their constituents."

Beaudesert resident Peter Wilson said he hoped the petition would bring about positive change.

"When I saw this petition it prompted me to stop being part of the silent majority and do something to have a positive effect," he said.

"As a ratepayer I firmly believe council has been appointed by the people for the people. I have no political ambition and it's not my personal objective to oust council, that's up to the electorate."

The petitioners said council was prioritising projects that would not add value to the community, including building a $13 million library complex at Davidson Park, extending council's customer service centre and appealing the heritage listing for the Helen Street pig and calf saleyard.

They cited revitalisation projects including the upgrade of Tamborine Mountain's Main Street and the planned removal of Himalayan ash trees at Boonah as examples of how ratepayers had been blindsided by council.

Mr Wilson said council projects had caused widespread concern and negativity in the Beaudesert community while nothing was being done to entice visitors to stop and stay.

"We have visitors and caravanners bypassing the town," he said.

"Go to Boonah, Canungra or Tamborine Mountain and they are towns with heart but for whatever reason, people bypass Beaudesert."

Cr Christensen said the petitioners had no evidence for their arguments.

"If individuals believe they have evidence of these allegations they should be providing that evidence to the relevant statutory authority such as the Crime and Corruption Commission Queensland or the Office of the Independent Assessor," he said.

"Clearly no such evidence exists and this group has resorted to slanderous innuendo to support their political ambitions."