Social distancing prompts unprecedented council meeting move

Coronavirus social distancing requirements mean the first statutory meeting of the new council will be held in a different setting at the MECC on Wednesday (April 22).

It is the first time in recent memory a meeting of Mackay Regional Council – formerly Mackay City Council – hasn’t been held in the Gordon Street administration building chambers.

The then Mackay City Council moved from the old Town Hall in Sydney Street to the current administration building in 1974.

CEO Craig Doyle said the coronavirus pandemic had prompted the need for unprecedented measures and the first meeting of the newly-elected council was another example.

“We couldn’t meet the social distancing requirements in the chambers, with 11 councillors, including the Mayor, directors and a minute secretary required to attend,’’ he said.

“So, the decision was made to relocate council meetings, starting with next week’s statutory meeting of the new council, to the MECC meeting rooms for the foreseeable future.

“Due to the social distancing requirements, the meeting won’t be open to the public.

“However, we will be livestreaming the meeting as usual on our council website and YouTube channel. It will also be streamed live on council’s Facebook page.

“Members of the public will be able to watch the meeting live on any of those platforms or watch a replay on the YouTube channel via a link on our website.”

The meeting will begin at 10am and among the agenda items will be election of a Deputy Mayor.

Mr Doyle said the Coronavirus social distancing requirements had also forced the need for changes to a swearing in ceremony for councillors prior to the statutory meeting.

“Swearing in ceremonies for previous terms of council have been civic events, with newly elected councillors able to invite friends and family,’’ he said.

“Wednesday’s ceremony, to be held at 9am before the statutory meeting, will be a much more low-key affair.

“Councillors will be sworn in one at a time in the chambers, with no invited guests in attendance, to meet social distancing requirements.”