COUNCIL MEETING: Debate over councillors’ parking perks

FEARS of swooping magpies were among the colourful points of debate yesterday as councillors voted on whether to retain parking perks. 

A motion to amend expenses reimbursement and provision of facilities for the councillors and mayor was put before the Fraser Coast Regional Council.

It included removal of reimbursement for a divisional office, removal of reimbursement for a home telephone line and the removal of the exemption to comply with regulated parking.

Councillor David Lewis asked for an amendment to the motion, including allowing councillors to keep their exemption from regulated parking.

The motion was passed 8-3. Fraser Coast  Mayor Seymour said the council should not have a policy that exempts councillors from following laws the rest of the community was expected to obey.

 "To me it's self-evident we should not be doing that," he said.

Cr Denis Chapman then asked if another amendment could be brought, limiting the exemption from regulated parking to council meetings in Maryborough when CBD parking would be needed.

Cr Seymour said his objection still stood, adding that councillors could enjoy unlimited parking at the Brolga Theatre and enjoy a stroll through Queens Park to get to Maryborough City Hall.

But Cr Chapman said councillors shouldn't have to walk that far.

"We need to be able to park in areas where we can do our council meetings, close to the CBD," he said.

"Like today, if I walked from the Brolga Theatre to here in my suit, I could have got attacked by a magpie, or I'd be very sweaty by the time I got here.

"It was very convenient for me to park in the area of the town hall.

"I just think it's a way of showing the community that we are prepared to take restricted parking, but we just need to do our job."

Cr Seymour said creating exemptions for councillors was problematic.

 "Do we have the power to allow me to walk my dog off-leash on any beach I want?" he said.

Cr Seymour said the council had the power to change laws for everyone, but changing a law to suit themselves was wrong.

"If you don't like a local law, change it for everyone, not just for yourselves, even on a meeting day," he said.

Cr Chapman's amendment was voted down 6-5.

The motion was passed 9-2, with Cr Zane O'Keefe and Cr Seymour voting against.