BREAKING: Council appoints board of new tourism organisation

CONTROVERSY continues to surround the establishment of the region wide tourism board Destination Southern Downs, with fiery scenes during debate on the appointment of the board members  in a meeting of the Southern Downs Regional Council in Stanthorpe.

There was rigorous debate surrounding the legalities of whether council could approve the proposed board.

Cr Jo McNally was on the attack against suggestions by Cr Mackenzie that councillors voting appoint the board wouldn't be legal.

"We've made our decision yet again," she said.

"You're just trying to hold this up yet again."

Some Granite Belt operators are up in arms over the decision, with one describing it as 'absolutely deplorable'.

Only two of the seven board members are from Stanthorpe, with no representation from the wine industry on the board.

The controversial debate was brought out of a confidential sitting and into the open meeting, after Cr Jamie Mackenzie requested the meeting become more open and transparent.

His motion was supported by Cr Glyn Rees, Cr Ross Bartley, Cr Vic Pennisi and Cr Cameron Gow.

Deputy Mayor Ross Bartley congratulated the people who put their names forward for the new board but said he couldn't support the board's appointment.

"In all essence of consistency I cannot support the board members, as I didn't support the establishment of the board originally," he said.

Council voted in favour of the new board 6 - 3, with Cr Pennisi, Bartley and Mackenzie voting against.

Mayor Peter Blundell, who was on the selection panel for the new board, described the recruitment process as 'extensive'.

"I am delighted with the appointments and feel we have the right mix of knowledge, experience, skills and enthusiasm to achieve our goals with this new direction in tourism," he said,

"The key focus of the Board will be developing a strategic plan for the region, approval of major projects and budgets and advocating on behalf of operators at all levels of government.

"The Chairperson and Directors will also provide strategic direction and support to the Chief Executive Officer of Destination Southern Downs."

Cr Blundell said the board positions were voluntary and there was no renumeration.

"The people we have appointed care deeply for this region and want to see it grow and develop into a burgeoning tourist destination," he said.

"Now that the Board has been appointed, the Chairperson will set dates for board meetings."

Destination Southern Downs board

Corrine Butler (Chairperson) - Queensland President of the Australian Human Resource Institute and Vice President of the Queensland Rural Regional and Remote Women's Network

Marion Carrick (Vice Chairperson) - Co-Owner of Alure Boutique Villas

Lewis von Stieglitz (Ordinary Member) - CEO Warwick Credit Union

Peta Hawes (Ordinary Member) - Chair of Southern Downs Regional Council Futures Board and co-owner of AgBiTech

Peter Bonner (Ordinary Member) - Owner of Aloomba Lavender and long-standing member of Stanthorpe Agricultural Society Organising Committee

Bev Ruskey (Ordinary Member) - Owner/operator of Spring Creek Mountain Cafe and Cottages

Majella Kahler (Ordinary Member) - Owner of Kahler's Oasis Caravan Park, President of Caravan Parks Association of Queensland and Board Member of Caravan Industry Association of Australia

Cr Blundell assured that Destination Southern Downs would meet it's timeline of being operational by July 1.

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