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Brisbane City Council’s city planning chairman is under scrutiny for not turning up to council meetings due to his roles with the Local Government Association of Queensland and LGIA Super.
Councillor Matthew Bourke is paid more than $113,000, on top of his $217,000 council salary, for his roles with the LGAQ.
Cr Bourke became chairman of Brisbane City Council’s city planning committee when previous chairman Julian Simmonds stood down to stand as a candidate at the next federal election.
Cr Bourke was not at Tuesday’s round of committee meetings or the main council meeting, due to his LGIA Super commitments.
Cr Bourke is paid about $217,000 as chairman of the City Planning Committee and receives $113,000 for his work on the LGAQ’s policy executive, as an LGAQ board member and a director of LGIA Super.
He receives $75,000 for attending nine meetings with LGIA Super, plus a $7000 top up to his superannuation.
Cr Bourke also receives $29,440 as an LGAQ board member plus a top of $3481 in superannuation, according to figures provided by the LGAQ.
Cr Bourke is not alone in this situation, as the LGAQ pays 14 councillors to perform duties for the organisation as a state representative body for local government.
Sunshine Coast mayor Mark Jamieson is paid an additional $137,422 on top of his $214,458 Sunshine Coast mayoralty salary (2016-17) to be president of the LGAQ.
Cr Jamieson, Cr Bourke with Townsville mayor Jenny Hill and Western Downs’ mayor Ray Brown comprise the LGAQ’s policy executive and are all paid sums of between $137,422 and $31,426 on top of their council salaries for their work.
Brisbane City Council opposition leader Peter Cumming acknowledged the situation has happened in the past but said the situation was becoming “a bit over the top”.
“It is a very important position as the chair of city planning – any of the chair positions are very important – and if you are doing that job properly you shouldn’t have time to be doing those other things as well,” Cr Cumming said.
He said the most worrying aspect was “thoroughness” in Brisbane's city planning position.
“We query how they can be doing their job properly that they are being paid for – it’s good money, $250,000 a year – when they are doing all this other stuff as well.
“Somewhere along the line, they have to be delegating, avoiding doing the hard yards.”
Cr Bourke last week defended his spilt roles.
“As has been the case for many decades the LGAQ has always had representation from Brisbane City Council on their policy executive,” Cr Bourke said.
Brisbane lord mayor Graham Quirk appoints Brisbane’s representative to the LGAQ policy executive, he said.
“I was elected from the policy executive to the board of the LGAQ and the LGAQ – as the employer representative for the LGIA Super – appoints their representative to the LGIA.”
He rejected suggestions he could not perform all duties.
“I prioritise my work and I’m there to represent the people of the Jamboree Ward and I’m there to do my role as chairman of planning and I make sure that I’m doing my best efforts into all the roles I play in representing the city of Brisbane,” Cr Bourke said.
He accepted he was paid for his work at the LGAQ, as had been former councillors Margaret de Wit (LNP) and John Campbell (Labor), who was president of the Australian Local Government Association.
“The positions are both remunerated, but there is work that is done with them and it’s all disclosed in the annual report,” he said.
Cr Quirk said the criticism of Cr Bourke was hypocritical and defended his absence from Tuesday's meetings.
"Cr Matthew Bourke is on local government association business in relation to the LGIA super fund and that is why he is not here today," Cr Quirk said.
He said this was not a new situation.
"Councillor Campbell, when he was the president of the Australian Local Government Association had commitments during his time during council meetings," he said.
He also questioned Jonathan Sri – a part-time musician – for taking a fortnight's holiday for a series of concerts.
"I also remember a lord mayor that actually decided to go to the Melbourne Cup on a council sitting day," he said.
"So I don't want to hear these pious questions from the Labor Party."