September 22, 2021
North Burnett mayor Rachel Chambers will quit Council on December 11.
The mayor, who also chairs the Wide Bay Burnett Regional Organisation of Councils (WBBROC), made the shock announcement in a video on her Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon.
“Almost six years ago I announced my intention to run for Mayor. Today, I am announcing my resignation, effective 11th December,” she said.
“Representing the North Burnett for the past 5 1/2 years has been the greatest honour and privilege of my life.
“I have thrown my heart, soul and life into representing you with kindness, courage and passion.”
Mayor Chambers, who formerly worked for BIEDO, defeated sitting mayor Don Waugh by 223 primary votes at the 2016 local government elections, securing 54 per cent of the vote after the distribution of preferences.
She was re-elected unopposed at the 2020 election.
A by-election, organised by the Electoral Commission of Queensland, will be held at a date to be fixed to fill the vacant position.
Mayor Chambers refuted rumours she planned to run for the State seat of Callide.
“Over the years I’ve been asked numerous times to run for either State or Federal Government and have considered it on occasion,” Mayor Chambers said.
“However, I’ve decided once and for all, that even though I believe I would have made a valuable Member of Parliament, I’m too much of a delinquent for party politics.
“As I’ve told both sides over the years, if I didn’t believe in something, I’d cross the floor more times than a vacuum cleaner.
“Both parties have great people, many of which I regard as friends, both have some great ideas, and both have their issues. My hope is that whoever is in government now and into the future, works out very soon that Local Government is the foundation of all of Queensland economies and supports us accordingly.
“I’ve relished the freedom being an apolitical mayor gives me. Until recently, the red team thinks I’m blue and the blue team thinks I’m red. That’s my job. That gives us the best chance for progressing the region.”
Mayor Chambers said the past three months had forced her to “reprioritise”.
“These events have been life-changing and have served as a wake-up call as to how life needs to be lived,” she said.
“And I need to make some changes in mine.
“I’m sorry for those I have let down with this decision. I agonised over it for a long time. All I can say is that it’s the right decision for me, and for us as a family.”
She said the role of Mayor was a “24 hour/7 day-a-week gig”.
“To do justice to the position you need to throw everything you’ve got at it, which of course leaves little for anything else,” she said.
“Its demands are many and I wouldn’t have lasted as long as I have without the unwavering support of my family, friends, colleagues and community members. You all know who you are, and I can’t thank you enough.”
She said she walked away from the job with “some disappointment”.
“I have left a great deal of unfinished business. Biggenden, Coalstoun and Cooranga water, a regional university hub, Substation 99, Perry pumped hydro, the sealing of State roads, minerals development and our project cutting red tape to name just a few,” Mayor Chambers said.
“I would have loved to have seen these through to the end. And of course, there is still so much more debate to be had regarding local governments’ sustainability across Queensland.
“I walk away however, with my head held high, knowing that I have given my all to the North Burnett.”
She it was “now time for another passionate, energetic, and proactive person to take the baton and run with it”.
“There’s much work left to be done,” she said.
“North Burnett, you will always hold a very special place in my heart. Thank you for the memories which I will hold dear for a lifetime.”
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North Burnett Regional Council has been the subject of increasing criticism in recent months.
A decision to cut some local services to save money was widely publicised.
Council has also been criticised for hiring contractors and senior staff from outside the region.
Earlier this month, Member for Callide Colin Boyce sponsored an official E-Petition to the State Government demanding an inquiry into the council.
The petition was lodged by Biggenden resident Edwin Chandler – a member of the North Burnett Citizen’s Alliance – and will be open until October 8.