Eyebrows raised over LNP links to Fitzroy development group
AXED members of the Regional Development Australia Fitzroy Central West Committee say their replacements have been politically appointed by the Abbott Government.
Gladstone Mayor Gail Sellers, Gladstone Industry Leadership Group CEO Kurt Heidecker and Gladstone resident Matt Cooke were all members of the former committee, but all 11 members were removed earlier this year, in favour of six people - the majority of whom have close affiliation with the LNP.
Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd said the change of government meant there was a need to review the committee structure.
When asked whether the appointments were politically motivated he said he considered all members had their fingers on the pulse in their various communities.
"I believe it's more community weighted than politically weighted," he said.
"We've got a mayor, some councillors, and business people - a wide range of experience.
"Each committee member will be expected to form a sub-committee within their region to make sure they represent their communities well."
RDA committees determine priorities within regions to assist with social and commercial development. They make funding recommendations to the Federal Government where final decisions are made.
Developments successfully presented to the government by the past committee included the dinosaur museum at Winton, community pools, kindergartens and the funding of the Federal Government's half share of the Kin Kora roundabout replacement project.
While Gladstone was represented previously by three people, the new committee has just one representative from the region. Initially Graham McVean was appointed but he resigned and regional councillor Graham McDonald has been appointed in his place.
While Mrs Sellers said yesterday she was happy as long as there was some local representation, she indicated she was disappointed with the decision.
"I feel we really put our hearts and souls into the committee, and we had some fantastic results. To me the ability to make a difference has been diminished," she said.
Mr Heidecker said previous committee members came from all walks of life - with what appeared to be no strong political affiliations - and expressed concern over the closeness of new members to the LNP.
"It will be interesting to see how a diminished committee can get across the wide variety of activities expected of it," he said.
Chairman: Kym Mobbs, farmer and businessman, Biloela
Deputy chairman: John Lever, proprietor, Koorana Crocodile Farm
Mary Carroll: CEO Capricorn Enterprise
Gai Sypher: Central Highlands Regional councillor
Neville Ferrier: Banana Shire councillor
Graham Lenton: Mayor of Winton
Graham McDonald: Gladstone Regional councillor
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