Ingrid Jackson quits

Cr Ingrid Jackson

Outspoken Noosa councillor Ingrid Jackson has announced she will not contest the next election in March.

She has confirmed she will also not seek the mayoral role.

Cr Jackson announced this week that she had been considering the decision – taken for mixed reasons and with mixed feelings – for many months.

She said the decision to make the announcement five months out from the electin was to give capable people time to consider standing in her place.

“Our community needs experienced, knowledgeable, hard-working and ethical people to lead it,” she said on a statement on her Facebook page. “It needs people who are concerned for others and who understand that Noosa Shire needs to be well governed if it is to effectively address the many challenges it faces.

“People have five months to stand up and communicate with the community about how they can provide it with the leadership it requires. I am willing to assist capable candidates to do this.”

Cr Jackson cited hostility, politics and the impact of “unelected influencers” as reasons behind her decision.

“Being the only woman councillor has made such antagonism even more isolating and oppressive,” she said.

“The community elected me to the important role of councillor and during the course of this four year term, I have done the best I could for our community.

“I have been a consistent advocate of openness, disclosure, evidence-based decision-making, procurement probity, merit-based selection, and for the council to adopt a more balanced and compassionate approach to residents’ issues. I shall continue to do this every day until a new council is elected next March.

“And I also greatly enjoy representing the people of our shire.

“Of course, I regret that I could not have done more, but I have learned that this is the nature of politics.

“When I was sworn in, I believed that, as every councillor was elected as an independent, the community would expect each of us to exercise that independence in the interests of the community.

“My understanding was that we would research, consult, scrutinise, question, debate and honestly account for every decision we made.

“I did not anticipate that scrutiny and questioning might be seen as unfriendly acts. I did not expect that the expression of ideas and positions contrary to those held by the majority of councillors would trigger hostility.

“On many important issues I found myself in a minority of one, with the others tending to operate as a group. Not always, but mostly. For me, being in a minority is fine. But it is not fine if it attracts aggression or scorn, as it did too many times.

“I believe that, as independent councillors, we have a duty to understand issues in detail, to assess whether proposed solutions are in the shire’s best interests and to advocate and pursue matters according to what we judge to be their merits, not necessarily on what we are told may be their merits.

“But our most important duty is to represent all the people of this shire, not some narrower interests.

“There was considerable pressure on me to conform, right from the early days of the current council. In fact it was made clear from the beginning that, once elected, councillors were to work, not as the independents the community thought it had elected, but as a team that would operate in solidarity.

“There were directions given about unity and the need to acquiesce to the team. To me, these instructions stood at variance with our role as independently-elected councillors, and even contradicted the legislation and rules that govern councillor behaviour.

“I was disturbed and unhappy with these attempts to corral me into being a reliable supporter of decisions that too often seemed to be pre-determined and which I was supposed to accept without protest.

“When I began to express contrary views on certain issues – an independence given to me by voters – it was too often met with hostility.

During her time as a councillor, Cr Jackson said she had always endeavoured to enhance democratic process, good governance and the interests of the community.

“But too often my efforts have fallen on fallow ground,” she said.

“Democracy dies in darkness and it withers when too much happens in the shadows behind closed doors, and beyond the cameras.

“Unelected influencers should never be accorded the ability to steer decisions, or to derive benefit from them. Elected representatives should never allow themselves to be rubber stamps for preconceived positions.

“Noosa Council still has much to do and I believe it is in need of reform and first-class leadership.”

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