Bundamba MP Jo-Ann Miller.
Bundamba MP Jo-Ann Miller.

Jo-Ann Miller will become Ipswich mayor ‘in a heartbeat’

IPSWICH cannot afford to elect representatives with "skeletons in their closet" when they head to the polls in less than two months for the most important election in the city's history.

That is the opinion of political analyst Dr Paul Williams, who believes Bundamba MP Jo-Ann Miller would become mayor "in a heartbeat" if she decides to run in March.

The senior lecturer in the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science at Griffith University said local government in south east Queensland has seen more upheaval and damaged its reputation more in the last four years than in the previous 40.

"So much has changed since 2016. We've had Operation Belcarra, we've had recommendations, we've had changes to electoral donation laws … and a push for compulsory preferential voting," he said.

"This is a critical election for voters. Councils need to rebuild trust with voters. I think the faith of a lot of voters has been shattered with the stories that have come out of Logan and Ipswich.

"Brisbanites see their council as just another political tier. Outside Brisbane they feel a close connection. It's really important for those councillors to be pillars of trust and to offer leadership."

Dr Williams said voters will be first and foremost be seeking "ordinary, hardworking and honest" people to lead Ipswich forward.

"If the next batch of councillors produces a council with skeletons in its closest again, that would be devastating," he said.

"It's absolutely critical that the candidates running this time are squeaky clean.

"Given the catharsis that Ipswich has gone through, I think voters will respond (to a lack of experience) positively.

"Honesty and integrity are number one. Number two is the ability to get on and do the job of roads, rates and rubbish. Thirdly they want them to do it at reasonable cost.

"Voters do not want a council who is going to throw any higher than CPI rate raises at them at the first budget."

Dr Williams said Mrs Miller needed to make up her mind soon or she will be viewed as "opportunistic".

"If she doesn't declare this week she might be leaving her run too late," he said.

"I'd say if we don't hear anything by the end of the week it's not going to happen.

"The Premier is going to have to get on and declare the Currumbin by-election date and that will almost certainly be held on the same day as the local government election.

"If she declares last minute, it looks opportunistic.

"If she said from early January she had said 'yep the people of Ipswich need me, I can save the council, I can be the best voice for Ipswich', she would have had that marvellous momentum at the silly season when people are still on holidays to digest that.

"If she is running, it seems like a curious start."