By Rose Astley
On Friday, 7 January, a special meeting was called by the Gympie Regional Council to make the shock announcement of the resignation of their CEO, Shane Gray.
Mr Gray has only served in this role for the last 18 months, his last day on the job was Monday, 10 January 2022.
No reason was given for his request to resign at the meeting, although councillors allegedly deliberated on the matter for five hours at the Town Hall.
Three of the eight councillors voted against Mr Gray’s decision to leave the Council, Dolly Jensen, Shane Waldock and Bruce Devereaux.
Mr Devereaux said he was disappointed that the organisation was losing Mr Gray, claiming he had been an instrumental figure in numerous planning decisions.
“Personally, I am disappointed to be losing Shane Gray from the top of our organisation just when so many of the transformational improvements he’s been instrumental in steering are either incredibly close to being rolled out or at a delicate stage of planning,” Cr Devereaux told Gympie Today.
“But if someone feels they need to go then that’s really all there is to be said on the matter. The fact is this was his decision and I respect that.”
Cr Devereaux also hit back at a number of comments from community members who have celebrated the decision of Mr Gray’s resignation online.
“I do find it incredibly sad and disingenuous to read where some people are commenting online about the situation and finding reason to be joyous or cast dispersions his way,” he said.
“In cases like that I think I would urge people to take the time to consider why, exactly, this amiable, knowledgeable and really rather sensible man has upset the commentators.
“The fact is, the organisational shift Mr Gray has been guiding council through has been difficult at the best of times, for all levels of council. Very few people are predisposed to embrace change. I know I myself struggle.”
Though the integrity of the Council has come under fire in recent months due to the indiscretion surrounding planning laws to protect our region’s wildlife.
Two Temporary Local Planning Instruments which focused on our region’s biodiversity were controversially reversed by councillors in December 2020, sparking protests from many environmental protection groups.
The Council had also been in hot water over allegations from The Services Union over the findings of a survey into investigations the Council which saw allegations of harassment and bullying.
In a statement made from the findings of the survey, released on 1 September, the union alleged that there had been a marked increase in the number of investigations at GRC and that some “appeared to lack the necessary substance to justify the investigation being undertaken in the first place“.
Mr Gray disputed these claims in an online statement.
Council will now work to find a replacement for Mr Gray, in the meantime financial services director David Lewis will take his place.
A continuation of Councillor Devereaux’s comments will be placed in the Letters to the Editor section of this newspaper.