Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow announced her resignation late yesterday via social media.
The shock announcement came after a Councillor Conduct Tribunal found her guilty of misconduct over a day trip to an Adani solar farm, she said.
“I absolutely refute their finding. I acted at all times in accordance with my own conscience and on the advice of senior legal practitioners as well as on the advice of officers from the Department of Local Government,” Cr Strelow said.
Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said she was absolutely gutted over hearing the news.
“I think she has been the victim of a witch hunt perpetrated by the Queensland State Labor Government,” Mrs Landry said.
“I always thought the rules imposed on the regional local governments were draconian and out of touch with regional Queensland.”
In her statement Cr Strelow said her resignation from the Office of Mayor took effect at 5 pm Monday.
“As you can imagine this is not a step that I’ve taken lightly and was definitely not something I had even remotely considered when I was re-elected as your Mayor eight short months ago,” she wrote on Facebook.
“After months of silence the Councillor Conduct Tribunal has decided that I am guilty of misconduct. I absolutely refute their finding.”
She said the solar farm visit at the centre of the findings was part of an official visit and normal day-to-day work for a Mayor, with the itinerary drawn up by the Premier and her participation approved by full council.
“My refusal to agree that I may have been compromised in some way by the visit is a matter of personal integrity for me. And I cannot with a clear conscience agree that a reasonable person would believe I might have been,” she wrote.
“As a matter of honour given the misconduct finding, I tendered my resignation to the CEO this afternoon. I wish to apologise to my community who may now have a Mayor who was not of your choosing.
“I remain hopeful that the government will find a way to allow you to have a by- election.
“Right up until the decision today I could not believe that a fair and independent tribunal could possibly find as they have done.”
Cr Strelow has served for more than 16 years as mayor and three years before that as a councillor.
Cr Strelow said she was leaving the community in better shape – financially and in outlook than when she returned to office in 2012.
She thanked her family and members of the Rockhampton Regional Council team for their support.
Councillor Neil Fisher has commenced duties as Acting Mayor in line with the Local Government Act 2009.
At the last election Cr Strelow polled 23,082 votes or 68.4 per cent of the vote against her only rival Chris Hooper, who recorded 10,622 votes.
Her resignation opens the way for Mr Hooper to become Mayor after changes to state legislation this year.
That outcome was exactly what Cr Strelow was railing against last month when she posted a video of herself on Facebook wearing a bubble wrap suit. (Post HERE)
“Trying to stay safe. For the next six months,” she wrote on October 15. “If anything happens to me then the State Government have passed Legislation to say that Chris Hooper is automatically your Mayor.
“He will be Mayor for the remaining 3 (+) years of the term. It doesn’t pass to the Deputy Mayor. It goes to the ‘next in line..’ that is to the person who came second at the election for Mayor.”