Qld govt to prioritise 'Pineapple Bill'

Marty Silk
·3-min read

The first legislation to be introduced into the Queensland parliament by the re-elected Labor government is intended to block Chris "Pineapple" Hooper from becoming Rockhampton mayor.

The environmental activist has been offered the city's top job following Margaret Strelow's resignation earlier this month.

Mr Hooper received about 30 per cent of the vote in the March election and, under laws passed in the middle of this year, as runner-up he's entitled to become the next mayor.

The Electoral Commission of Queensland says it informed the Rockhampton council on Thursday that Mr Hooper has consented to taking up the role.

"It is the council's responsibility to officially appoint Mr Hooper to the position," the ECQ told AAP.

Comment has been sought from Mr Hooper and Rockhampton Regional Council.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles is racing to pass retrospective laws that will prevent Mr Hooper from becoming mayor.

The first legislation to be introduced by the re-elected Labor government is likely be what's been dubbed "the Pineapple Bill", to ensure there's a by-election in Rockhampton.

Mr Miles is hopeful the bill is passed before the succession process plays out in Rockhampton.

"We will aim to legislate as quickly as we can so that it doesn't advance too far, but the point remains that it is our intention to allow the people of Rockhampton to choose their new mayor," he told reporters on Thursday.

"We're just working through the details of that, but it would be as quickly as possible."

The deputy premier said the role of mayor in a large regional city is important during a recession so a by-election is appropriate.

Mr Miles denied the government is targeting Mr Hooper, saying Labor took the laws to last month's state election.

"He's very very welcome to nominate in that by-election, and if he is chosen by the people of Rockhampton to be their mayor then that's entirely appropriate," Mr Miles added.

Liberal National Party leader David Crisafulli said the situation could have been avoided but the government made a "clear and deliberate" decision to change the laws earlier this year.

"As a result, Rocky residents are now going to cop the wrong end of the pineapple and that is a concern," he told reporters in Townsville on Thursday.

Not only did the government not listen to the opposition, Mr Crisafulli said, but it disregarded the Local Government Association of Queensland's concerns about the new laws.

"They didn't listen to counsellors, mayors - there's a video of Margaret Strelow actually saying 'what would happen if something happened' to her? And it's happened," Mr Crisafulli said.

"It's silly legislation. Coming second doesn't give you a blank mandate that you're the preferred candidate.

"In the case of Cairns, there were four people who ran, and the mayor got two-thirds of the vote. So that means if (Mayor) Bob Manning got hit by a bus today, that the person who gets installed as mayor would be someone who got supported by one in 10 voters, it's absurd, it is absurd."