Mayor, Acting CEO Express Disappointment In Print Media Stoppage
Gympie Region Mayor Glen Hartwig and Gympie Regional Council Acting CEO Pauline Gordon have today expressed their disappointment regarding yesterday’s announcement of the end of The Gympie Times print editions.
“This decision was out of the hands of The Gympie Times and I truly feel for the staff,” Mayor Hartwig said.
“Regional and community news outlets play such a vital role in the democratic process. I understand they will maintain their digital presence but gone are the days where you can sit down on a Saturday morning and read the paper over a cup of tea or coffee.
“If our region is one thing it’s resilient. We look after our own and I would encourage the staff to hang in there.
“While elected officials can get a bit of a hard time on occasion, it’s all part of a healthy society.
“It’s a sad situation indeed,” he said.
Council Acting CEO Pauline Gordon echoed Mayor Hartwig’s sentiments saying the decision was disappointing.
“The local paper is so important, it connects community together and we need to recognise that our community is diverse, not everyone wants to read their news on a computer or device. Some of our community are not digitally literate.
There’s also the social inclusion, that routine of walking down to buy the paper – it builds social resilience and is good for our mental health as a community.”
“Our region, along with the rest of Australia is still very much hurting from COVID-19,” Ms Gordon said. “It just goes to show, even the biggest and wealthiest companies are not immune to poor economic conditions.
“I feel for the staff. However I know the Gympie Times will continue to support and advocate on issues facing our community,” Ms Gordon said.
There are many moments in life that stand out for all of us. Last week was one for myself when during the ordinary meeting on Wednesday, councillors were told by the Acting CFO,
“When Council adopted its budget for the 2019-2020 financial year, it forecast insufficient cash reserves at years’ end to maintain business operations.”
This comment stopped me in my tracks as we were never told this information, at any stage, during our budget deliberations for the 2019-2020 financial year. To hear this now is both frustrating and more than disappointing. I often use the metaphor of the titanic, but it’s how we as councillors feel and I’m sure how you as residents feel; we knew the iceberg was coming and did nothing about it.
And you’ve got to ask the question, why weren’t we told?
The most frustrating part is that the fallout and repercussions are huge. You can’t get past the basic fact that, had we known and addressed our financial issues back then, we wouldn’t be in the financial mess we are in now where budget cuts are not just a necessity, they are unavoidable.
Councillors continue to work on the budget and look at all options on how we can repair the damage, and we will, but it’s going to take time and we need to earn your trust by our actions.
We are on the right path, and will take another step on Thursday. A special meeting has been called to consider the appointment of a new CEO. And we will announce any decisions made as soon as we are able. There are exciting changes ahead, and a new direction for your Council.