New Sunshine Coast Council CEO Michael Whittaker has hit the ground running on his first day on the job vowing to meet as many community members as possible within his first few months.
And he’s aiming to put Sunshine Coast on the Australian map as a leader in local government excellence.
“Sunshine Coast Council is, I believe, one of the pre-eminent councils in Queensland and I’m aiming to make it the number one council in Australia,” Mr Whittaker said.
“However, working with and talking to the community to ensure we are providing the services they expect and deserve is my first priority.
“From roads to parks and gardens, libraries, environmental protection and customer contact centres I’ll be ensuring staff can get on with the job of providing excellent service, especially on those day-to-day necessities which help make the Sunshine Coast the best place possible in which to live, work and play.
“Financially the council is in very good shape. The organisation has achieved five consecutive unqualified audits and awarded the second highest credit ranking available by the Queensland Treasury Corporation.
“No other council in Queensland is higher than the Sunshine Coast. That’s an outstanding achievement and my job is to build on that.”
Building on the relationship with State and Federal governments to encourage infrastructure investment is another priority for the new CEO.
“Government investment will ensure the Sunshine Coast becomes a more attractive place in which to do business – especially for the health, knowledge and technology industries which complement our lifestyle,” he said.
“Our game-changing projects such as the Sunshine Coast Airport expansion, the Sunshine Coast Solar Farm and SunCentral Maroochydore development – Australia’s only greenfield CBD at this time - are critical to attracting investment to the Sunshine Coast.
“They’ll help us achieve a strong economy, so it’s imperative the great work done to date continues and other projects move from the strategic planning and conceptual stage into implementation.”
Mr Whittaker said council staff had already experienced major changes with amalgamation and de-amalgamation, so providing stability within the organisation was high on his agenda.
“I will be working with councillors to ensure that happens, to ensure our staff have the resources to carry out their jobs well, with diligence and professionalism.
“I’m looking forward to developing very strong relationships with the community, the councillors and staff so together we can take the Sunshine Coast confidently into its next chapter and continue to build on its strong foundations to provide a bright future for our residents and the next generation.”
Mr Whittaker brings to the role more than 20 years’ experience in senior and chief executive level roles in state and local government.
He has been a CEO of four councils in New South Wales and Western Australia including most recently Wyong Shire Council on the New South Wales central coast.
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson paid tribute to former Sunshine Coast CEO John Knaggs, who has taken on the position of CEO SunCentral Maroochydore Pty Ltd.
“John led this organisation through amalgamation and de-amalgamation and a re-organisational review and steered this council towards the enviable position in which we find ourselves in today,” Mayor Jamieson said.