Queensland council told: show cause or face dismissal

By Adam Coleman

North Queensland’s Douglas Shire Council has been requested to show cause as to why it should not be dissolved, following two separate investigations finding the council to be often dysfunctional.

The Show Cause Notice was issued to the Douglas Shire mayor and CEO in Mossman this morning and gives the council 14 days to provide a response.

Local Government and Planning Minister Andrew Fraser said the decision to issue the notice was the most appropriate to deal with the long-running issues confronting the council. “Divisions within the council run so deep that they have reached down and infected the proper functioning of the council staff.”

It was only last year that The Planning Institute Australia’s (PIA) – Queensland Division awarded the Douglas Shire for its excellence in planning.

The council also maintains a very sound financial base, said Mr Fraser, but he suggested the ability of its elected representatives to work together “is so compromised by hostility that the Council’s continuing effectiveness has been placed at risk”.

"It’s a council whose elected representatives frequently descend into dysfunction – even childish behaviour – in their meetings, both public and private," he said.

"The interaction between council as a whole and its chief executive officer is one of great concern."

The mayor of Douglas Shire Council, Mike Berwick, was in hospital for minor surgery and unavailable for comment but a spokesperson from the council told governmentnews.com.au that he welcomed the Show Cause Notice.

“Mayor Berwick hopes that Council can work towards resolving the matters as outlined by the Minister," she said.

 A special meeting of the council to discuss the matter has been called for 9.30am on February 12.

Mr Fraser defended his decision as the only course of action.
"I stress that this is not a decision I make lightly. But it is a decision that must be made in the interests of strong and accountable and responsible local government,” he said.

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