AT THE HELM: New mayor thrust straight into action
HE might have only been declared the new mayor late last night, but Vic Pennisi has hit the ground running.
The Southern Downs mayor-elect spent this afternoon speaking with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Minister for Health Steven Miles and Minister for Local Government Stirling Hinchliffe.
Mr Pennisi and other new mayors across Queensland were brought up to speed on how the government is addressing the COVID-19 crisis.
Though he's eager to start, he'll have to be sworn in first once the other councillors are declared.
The new council will first come together at a statutory meeting Mr Pennisi said.
"At the first meeting there will be a number of business items. The main one will be the election of the deputy mayor," Mr Pennisi said.
He said the process is done through nominations and then a show of hands.
The councillor elected with the most votes, being Ross Bartley at last count, isn't necessarily given the role.
"Anyone can be nominated. It's always nice if both the mayor and deputy don't come from the same town.
"What I hope is there's a strong favourite so the first decision this mayor makes isn't a split decision," he said.
Assessing and limiting the impacts of coronavirus will be Mr Pennisi's first big challenge.
He also has the ongoing drought to contend with.
"I think there's a number of key challenges. First of all keeping people alive.
"In conjunction with that is recovery and how we stop the bleeding in the economy that's happening.
"Its' going to be so critical and how we go about recovery will be critical.
"How do we issue rates? Those poor buggers who've got nothing and might have gone down to $500 a fortnight.
"How do we lessen the pain of rates this year because we still have to provide essential services.
"It's going to be complex."
Ultimately he's looking forward to working with the incoming councillors.
He says that he hopes they come with a 'wishlist' of items they're keen to address.
"Just go back to basics, see what the priorities are and start with them."
Member for Southern Downs James Lister congratulated Mr Pennisi.
The pair were actually enjoying a wine together for Mr Lister's birthday when the declaration came through Monday evening.
"I congratulate Cr Pennisi on his election as mayor and I wish him, the councillors and the staff every success in the coming four years," Mr Lister said.
"The election result says to me that people wanted an open council and I look forward to working with the new council as they achieve that goal.
"I have an excellent working relationship with Vic and if he and council feel I can assist in any way, I would be very happy to provide whatever assistance they seek going forward."