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Way to go Bob

HE'S had a big job as the first mayor of the Sunshine Coast Regional Council, but now a relaxed and comfortable Bob Abbot is leaving some even harder local governance tasks to his successors, without regret.

And looking back on 30 years of uninterrupted community service with Noosa and the Coast, Mr Abbot said this week: "This (first council of 2008-12) council did all the hard work, now there's only the harder work left to do and that's the reality."

Cr Abbot, who said he would relinquish the top job once the poll was declared (and that could come as early as next week), said mayor elect Mark Jamieson would face "an enormous challenge".

"I'll be talking to Mark before I step down, about the transition," the former electrician turned community leader said.

"We've done all the planning - we've been a planning council, a preparation council and a foundation-building council.

"Now the next council will have to be more focused on delivery."

Cr Abbot said Mr Jamieson had the ability to deliver, given his considerable business experience.

"But my advice to Mark is don't forget the people who put you there - the everyday person, who is just a regular punter and just wants their services."

For Cr Abbot - who once marched on the Queen St powerbase of the Labor Government that forced Noosa into a locally despised amalgamation - his views back then that big would not be better have been reforged after four years at the helm of one of the largest councils in the land.

"Noosa had its many good points - it was small, very close, you knew everybody and it was a good place to be," Cr Abbot said.

"At the same time, you have the Sunshine Coast council which has far broader scope.

"It's a much bigger organisation; being the mayor of the fourth largest local authority in Australia brings a bit of credibility with it and some recognition.

"People listen, where as the old days you'd be scrambling as mayor of Noosa to get the attention. It was the big councils that always got the attention; well we were one of them this time."

Cr Abbot's advice on the Noosa de-amalgamation: "I think it's something that could be just getting a bit too much," the mayor said of the LNP Government's boundary review that will soon be set in train.

"There is a process to be followed, I'm certainly not going to jump on the wagon and rattle the chains like everyone else. I'll wait for the process and then I'll make my submissions in the appropriate form."

Cr Abbot said four years ago he was ready to walk away from council life.

"But I just couldn't stand to sit by and watch one candidate (Joe Natoli) put his hand up and get elected with no challenge. The other time I thought of giving it away was probably back in the early '90s.

"There was a lot of pressure on us - I got a $20 million writ (from a developer). There were times like that when you said, 'what am I doing here?'. They would have had to get it (any damages payment) out of my bank, because they (the bank) had my property. I didn't have $2 let alone $20m."

The mayor will be bowing out alongside hinterland councillor Lew Brennan, who lost to Tony Wellington.

"I have to say I'm sad to see Lew go - he had a great deal to offer the region," he said.

"There's a lot of good people who don't survive. I think that it's unfortunate, but all the best to Tony Wellington, he's got big shoes to fill."

Cr Abbot's immediate future is as a mayoral mentor for the Queensland Local Government Association. "I've been involved in local elections for 30 years. What I'm most proud of is, at the end of the day, when I walk out that day, whenever it is, I have no regrets.

"I did everything to the best of my ability and with good people around me. I think if you want to generalise a bit, I've been tagged as a green mayor. I don't know that I'm a green mayor, it's more about sustainability than being a green. So, if that's the tag that I wear, a sustainability mayor, I think that's enough, what I'm proud of."

Topics:  bob abbot, mayor, sunshine coast regional council


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