Mick Kruger is on the firing line taking flak from disgruntled developers and even councillors losing faith in their leader. Now, he tells 'em he's going to get tough.
Mick Kruger is on the firing line taking flak from disgruntled developers and even councillors losing faith in their leader. Now, he tells 'em he's going to get tough.

Mayor Mick vows to motivate

IT’S CRUNCH time in the Fraser Coast Regional Council. Mick Kruger is grabbing hold of the mayoral reins with new purpose and a vow to turn the council’s negative image into positive, after his 22 months at the helm.

“Your senior management has really got to be entrepreneurial.

“You’ve got to get partnerships with private enterprise.

“Everything seems to be too difficult within the council. We’ve got to be more positive about it ourselves and show you, the community, that we’re acting on your behalf; that we’re doing what we believe is the best for you.

“I’ve always had hold of the reins but I’ve tried to work cohesively with my management and with my councillors but you can just see in the last six months that councillors are getting a little bit irritated, they’re not happy.

“I’m not saying that’s with all the directors but there are certain ones in there they’re not gelling with and we have to fix that.”

The council’s executive committee is among the fixable components he sees as sometimes getting in the way of the information flow from senior management to the council chamber.

“I’m not on that committee. It’s probably seen to be interfering with recommendations that are going to come to the council and yes, we can get rid of it.

“The councillors can. We just say we don’t want it.”

The executive of the council is Andrew Brien (CEO), Lisa Desmond (director organisational services), David King (director planning services), Wayne Sweeney (director engineering services) and Peter Smith (director community services).

“A couple of times I’ve mentioned it to Andrew (the CEO) about the role it’s playing. The information is peer reviewed by the management team and then it comes to us.

“I mean, how do our officers feel about it when they do a report and it’s a really good report and it comes back and the executive committee has changed this, changed that?

“But at this point of time I’m not going to rush to do anything because I’ve got a couple of other problems to take care of first,” he says smiling wryly.

Mr Kruger says he “spoke to all” his directors and to the CEO before Christmas.

“I’ve done it all and all this, (the publicity in the Chronicle) has blown up since.

“To some degree this has just come at the right time even though a lot of people are saying to me don’t worry about this bloody newspaper.

“But I say back to them, maybe it’s a bit harsh on council but also maybe we’ve been a little bit lax and we haven’t taken a more strong role when we should have. Well, I intend to rectify that.”

The man who runs a $180 million yearly budget and confesses he’s loving the job so much he may run again, says the mayor is the council leader and councillors look to the mayor for leadership.

“If the mayor agrees wholeheartedly with what they’re putting forward then others will follow. If the mayor is a little bit hesitant others will waiver a bit.

“What I really want to do is get the councillors motivated, to see whether they’re happy with the portfolio system.

“I want to try and get a couple of projects from them that they believe are something they’d love to get up in the next couple of years. And if those projects aren’t in our 10-year plan, then perhaps let’s look at putting them in.”

Mr Kruger chairs the council’s planning and development committee.

Developers have said to the Chronicle in recent months, how is it, therefore, that so many development applications are delayed, paperwork lost – and sometimes after years of applications and thousands of dollars handed over – the developments are refused?

Does Mr Kruger see a conflict of interest in his planning services director David King’s role? Mr King is a lawyer.

“If councillors ask him for advice he can provide it. I know there are lines (in council reports) where he’s said I can give you my opinion but you should actually get your own legal advice.

“But that dual role is one of those things I don’t like.

“Planning is always subject to controversy. “Sometimes I believe the risk factor (in the council) is taken too seriously in getting an outcome. I always believe you should look for an outcome. If there’s a risk there look for a way to get around it in a way that is legal and you can get a satisfactory outcome for both parties.”

Mr Kruger hopes to have talked with his 700 employees, including his executive staff, by the end of February.

“The two years is up in March since amalgamation and as far as staff is concerned we’ve got to put our best foot forward and hopefully this amalgamation mess that we’ve inherited is put behind us and we move forward as one unit and work together as a team.

“I want to be able to work with everyone in here and with the community.”



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