Deputy Mayor Gavin Jones will take on added responsibilities if the portfolio reshuffle is ratified at the next general meeting of the South Burnett Regional Council

August 15, 2022

by Dafyd Martindale

Deputy Mayor Gavin Jones will become the South Burnett’s “Minister For Everything” after the latest reshuffle of councillor portfolio responsibilities.

In addition to his existing Roads portfolio, Cr Jones will take on the Water & Wastewater and Plant & Fleet portfolios, both formerly held by Cr Roz Frohloff who resigned in March.

Cr Jones’ cluster of essential local government responsibilities accounts for almost 40 per cent of the SBRC’s annual Budget.

Newly elected Cr Jane Erkens – appointed at Division 1 by-election in May to take Cr Frohloff’s place – will take on Tourism, Sport & Recreation and Commercial Services.

Mayor Brett Otto will continue to oversee Corporate Governance & Strategy, People & Culture, Communications/Media, Finance, ICT and Advocacy & Community Relations; while Cr Danita Potter will retain Community & Liveability (including health and youth), Arts, Heritage, Local Disaster Management and Waste & Recycling.

Cr Kathy Duff will head up Rural Resilience & Disaster Recovery, Parks & Gardens, Property & Facility Management, Indigenous Affairs and Compliance; and Cr Scott Henschen will continue overseeing Rural Services, Natural Resource Management, Agriculture Industry Development and Environment.

Cr Kirstie Schumacher will retain Regional Development – a new portfolio area which was introduced after her election in 2020 – along with Planning and Housing.

The new portfolio allocations were made at the Council’s August Executive and Finance & Corporate Standing Committee meeting.

They are expected to be ratified at the next General Meeting on August 24.

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The latest portfolio assignments follow several discussions in recent meetings about the benefits of divisions against portfolios, and the difficulties some residents have in determining who to talk to if they have a problem.

Cr Jane Erkens said she believed Divisions were easier for residents to understand because they voted for each Division’s councillor, and naturally expected that the person elected would focus exclusively on that portion of the region so they could bring local problems to that Councillor’s attention.

Cr Kathy Duff agreed, noting that when the 2008 amalgamation occurred Gympie Regional Council abolished divisions, but was forced to restore them at the following election in 2012.

This was because – without Divisions – the most heavily-populated areas elected the majority of the councillors, which left less-populated areas – such as Goomeri and Kilkivan – feeling they had no representation at all.

Against this, Mayor Brett Otto argued it did not really matter who a resident contacted about a problem if Councillors forwarded emails to one another to ensure everyone was kept “in the loop”.

Other Councillors agreed, saying they found the portfolio system gave them a greater understanding of Council operations and forced them to take a broader, regional view rather than a narrow, parochial one.

Councillors also briefly debated introducing a split portfolio system where portfolio responsibilities would be shared equally by two Councillors, but in the end decided to stick with the existing system introduced by former Mayor Wayne Kratzmann in 2012.


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