Southern Downs MP James Lister.
Southern Downs MP James Lister. Gerard Walsh

SDRC slams 'ill-informed' Lister for 'crossing line'

SOUTHERN Downs MP James Lister has been accused of "subverting the processes of local government" and "denigrating" Mayor Tracy Dobie and her fellow councillors.

In an open letter councillors, excluding Vic Pennisi, called on Mr Lister to work with them.

The letter alleged Mr Lister refused to meet with the council despite its requests.

"His rebuff of all approaches by councillors to work amicably with him has left (the) council no choice but to publicly call on the state member to desist from crossing the line between state and local government in an attempt to manipulate local government outcomes," the letter said.

"It seems Mr Lister has not made any attempt to gain an understanding of local government nor the legislation contained in the Local Government Act under which all Queensland councils must operate."

The council complained about Mr Lister using public statements of constant criticism of its decisions.

The letter goes on to say Mr Lister's commentary was ill-informed and showed a lack of respect for local leaders.

"He can still achieve positive outcomes for his electorate, without spending public money and wasting his taxpayer- funded time attempting to subvert the processes of local government," it said.

Mr Lister deflected the comments and said the council could not have picked a worse day to start a fight, following news of Big W closing its distribution centre.

"The suggestion that I have refused to meet them is untrue," he said.

"I have met the mayor and councillors many times, in my office, in the mayor's office and at council offices.

"There have been five formal meetings of this kind since January 2018, and many more informal ones as we run into each other around the place.

"The mayor and I are also due to meet in my office on April 16 and and June 19, and this has been in both of our diaries for months.

"I have not refused to meet with the council. I have asked that any meetings I have with the whole council occur in an open statutory meeting, not behind closed doors, but the council has refused. I believe that council business ought to be out in the open.

"It's my job to represent anyone who wants my help, and if representing people upsets other politicians, then I can live with that."

Southern Downs Regional Council Letter to the Editor 

Dear Editor,

Councillors of Southern Downs Regional Council are calling on James Lister, State Member for the Southern Downs, to put aside his prejudices and to work alongside Council for the good of the community and all residents across the Southern Downs.

Since his election to State Parliament, Mr Lister has refused to meet with Council despite its requests and invitations. His rebuff of all approaches by Councillors to work amicably with him has left Council no choice but to publicly call on the State Member to desist from crossing the line between State and Local Government in an attempt to manipulate local government outcomes. 

Council welcomes informed feedback and opinion but it seems Mr Lister has not made any attempt to gain an understanding of local government nor the legislation contained in the Local Government Act under which all Queensland Councils must operate.

He refuses to communicate with this Council, choosing instead to use the local media, social media and public statements regularly denigrating the Mayor, Councillors and Council staff with constant criticism of Council deliberations and decisions.

Mr Lister uses his position as a Member of State Parliament to make ill-informed commentary, showing a lack of respect for the local level of government in our region where councillors are elected independently by the community, free of party politics.

Even though Mr Lister is a first-time parliamentarian sitting in the Opposition back benches representing one of the safest LNP seats in Queensland, he can still achieve positive outcomes for his electorate, without spending public money and wasting his tax-payer funded time attempting to subvert the processes of local government.

The undersigned invite the Member for the Southern Downs to put to one side any political or personal agenda and work alongside Council for the good of all residents of the whole of the Southern Downs.


Yours sincerely
Southern Downs Regional Council Councillors
Mayor Tracy Dobie
Deputy Mayor Jo McNally
Cr Cameron Gow
Cr Rod Kelly
Cr Neil Meiklejohn
Cr Marika McNichol
Cr Yve Stocks
Cr Sheryl Windle

 

Southern Downs MP James Lister's response. 

The council's press statement today is unfortunate but there's too much other stuff going on today than to waste time arguing with other politicians.

Today we heard the terrible news that Big W plans to close their distribution centre in Warwick with the loss of 200 direct jobs, and potentially many more in associated suppliers and contractors.

I have been in contact with the company and have written to them and the Minister for State Development today to try to salvage jobs and get an assurance that Our Big W store will be safe from closure.

There is one thing that I will say. The suggestion that I have refused to meet them is untrue. I have met the mayor and councillors many times, in my office, in the mayor's office and at council offices. There have been five formal meetings of this kind since January 2018, and many more informal ones as we run into each other around the place. The mayor and I are also due to meet in my office on 16 April and and 19th June, and this has been in both of our diaries for months.

I have not refused to meet with the council. I have asked that any meetings I have with the whole council occur in an open statutory meeting, not behind closed doors, but the council has refused. I believe that council business ought to be out in the open.

I am very busy representing my community - farmers who have had their properties invaded, fighting for water projects like Emu Swamp Dam, and helping the many, many, ordinary people who come to me with problems that they have with the state government and council. It's my job to represent anyone who wants my help, and if representing people upsets other politicians, then I can live with that.

James Lister