'John, good on ya': Mayor, Connolly fire up at breakfast
THE frosty relationship between Mayor Mark Jamieson and Cr John Connolly was laid bare in front of about 100 Coast business people this morning.
The two fired back and forth at each other after Cr Jamieson raised the topic of the Brisbane Rd carpark while guest speaking at the Mooloolaba Chamber of Commerce breakfast.
Cr Jamieson had called for questions from the audience and after receiving none on the carpark, brought it up himself.
"There was a resolution passed through council last week to split the Brisbane Rd carpark site in half on a north-south orientation and build a 700 (space) carpark on the Smith Street side... and then put the balance of the block out for tender, ideally for a hotel," Cr Jamieson said.
"I didn't vote for that."
He was referring to a motion Cr Connolly moved to push ahead with a quicker route to construction rather than the council again seeking expressions of interest for developing the site.
"I didn't think it was the best outcome for the ratepayers of the Sunshine Coast," Cr Jamieson said.
"With respect, I need to think well beyond the people in this room or the environs of Mooloolaba in making decisions."
He said his and all councillors' responsibilities were to make decisions for the broader region.
"You might end up getting a solution that in the short term suits you but whether it suits the region long term I still have a big question mark over."
He said he thought all the work the council had done with previous development partner Abacus Group was a good outcome.
"It remains to be seen whether the suggestion that we can build a 700 carpark on that site for $20 million (will eventuate).
"I don't believe we will be anywhere near that mark and that's going to be the real challenge.
"I don't want this to drag out any more than you do but if the quote comes back or the tender comes back at $30-odd million, council's just going to have to be forced to re-look at it again.
"I'm not sure that in our haste to make up time we end up with a better outcome, but time will tell."
Cr Connolly, who had been sitting at a different table to the mayor, stood to say he disagreed with with him completely.
He said he believed the new plan would cost ratepayers less than what the council had been willing to give to Abacus Group to progress the now-failed proposal.
"It's a shame this had to become an argument and you tried to politicise this," Cr Connolly said.
"John, good on ya," Cr Jamieson, who was holding the microphone replied, before stating he had experience in raising political issues at public meetings.
"I stood over at Twin Waters over at the convention centre there and spoke to a few thousand people who didn't want the airport expanded," Cr Jamieson said.
"It would have been easy for me to just crumble and say I'm not going to do it, but at the end of the day I think what we are doing is the best outcome.
"John, you don't need to defend your position mate, you won the vote.
"I'm just explaining to people what my thoughts are.
"You don't need to defend your position."
Cr Connolly said the mayor had politicised the issue by bringing it up and that was a great shame.
"No I didn't," Cr Jamieson said.
"I came here and I asked people did they want to know about the Brisbane Road carpark.
"I was surprised nobody asked me.
"I wasn't going to leave the elephant in the room so I responded."
After the mayor took a few more questions from other guests, Mooloolaba Chamber of Commerce president Graeme Juniper thanked him for bringing up the carpark topic.
"It got a little bit hotter in the kitchen than I estimated but it was still a good outcome," Mr Juniper said.
After the meeting, Cr Jamieson was asked if he would get behind the Brisbane Road carpark decision the council had made last week.
"I always support council decisions and there will be a lot of decisions to be made as we go through the process into the future," Cr Jamieson said.