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10 January, 2020

Mayor Paronella stands down

Tablelands Regional Council (TRC) Mayor Joe Paronella formally announced his retirement

By Phil Brandel

In October last year, Mareeba Mayor Tom Gilmore announced his retirement from local government and now another Tableland’s Mayor has called time. Tablelands Regional Council (TRC) Mayor Joe Paronella formally announced his retirement from the Mayoral race on Friday afternoon in an official statement from the TRC.

“As many are already aware, I won’t be running for re-election, but I want to make sure the results of our handwork is handed over to a new team of elected officials who are fully aware of what the role entails, are ready to make more of the tough and sometimes unpopular decisions, and will continue to carry this Council and our region onwards and upwards."

The official statement also included:

“I always said my main goal was to leave this Council better than what it was when I arrived and I’m really proud of how this Council has conducted itself and what we have achieved over the last four years.

“The Councillors knew that many decisions we would make would not be popular but would result in the best long-term outcomes for our community.  We have a competent, passionate and experienced team of leaders at the helm who have made significant progress in re-establishing systems and processes, improving internal communications and collaboration, and building the capability and capacity across the organisation."

In the statement, Mayor Pranoella listed a few highlights from his tenour including:

“We have invested in our staff, which is an investment in our community."

“We’ve worked hard to repair relationships with our nearby shires and Mayors, and state and federal members."

“We’ve improved our engagement with youth and developed a Reconciliation Action Plan to guide our relationships and opportunities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples."

“We’ve significantly increased our investment in roads and bridges, and improved and streamlined our maintenance and inspection programs."

“Our financial footing has improved, and we have focused on long-term planning, the success of which may not be realised for years to come."

“The Council is in a good financial position with low debt and projected operating surpluses over the next ten years."

The Mayor said he was now looking forward to spending more time with family and friends and "enjoying the retirement that I postponed four years ago. Thank you to my wife Wendy who has supported me and been my rock during my 12 years of local government,”

Mr Paronella served as a Councillor for Atherton Shire Council for two terms and was elected mayor of Tablelands Regional Council (TRC) in 2016.

Over the past 4 years, the TRC has been plagued by rumours of council corruption, unaccountability and overstaffing as well as the gagging of councillors and excessive rate risers. At the time Mayor Paronella responded in an open letter to residents by saying “We are one of the most transparent and open councils in Queensland,”

TRC Mayor Joe Paronella.

“We have referred allegations of any wrongdoing to appropriate authorities including the Crime and Corruption Commission, who have determined the allegations as being vexatious or frivolous.”

Friday afternoons statement followed an announcement earlier that the Tablelands Regional Council’s Deputy Mayor Katrina Mellick would officially nominate to run for the top job come the March Local Government Elections.

In an exclusive interview with The Express Ms Mellick revealed that she had made her decision to run for Mayor after discussing it with her family and friends over the festive break.

“You find your vocation when you marry your passion with your skills and experience,” she said

“I have been very fortunate in my life that I have always felt fulfilled in whatever role I’ve had”.

Councillor Katrina Mellick, TRC Division 5 & Deputy Mayor

“If someone told me 6 years ago that I would be in council I would have told them they were dreaming and even now to consider running for mayor it’s taken me a long time to come to the decision I have."

“I think it’s because I really do care about the region and the people in it and feel a strong sense of prosperity for the future”.

“It’s the right time for me, I’ve had time to reflect and talk to my son Tom and the rest of my family and they fully support me in the decision I have made,” said Ms Mellick.

Local council elections are being held on March 28.

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