Barnes, Habermann declared winners

BREAKING: THE last two divisions on Bundaberg Regional Council have finally been declared, with Vince Habermann and Greg Barnes emerging the eventual victors in their respective seats.

Almost two weeks after Bundaberg region voters went to the polls, Mr Habermann was declared the Division 4 winner, despite holding a healthy lead right from the start.

With just less than 82% of the vote counted, he ended up more than 500 votes clear of sitting councillor Mary Wilkinson, with Tom Head and Brad Rowe bringing up the rear.

"It's a relief that it's finally declared," he said.

"I always knew that I was probably safe, but last time (in 2008) I went through the same thing - two weeks, in front all the way, and on the last day I lost on preferences, so it was a relief to finally get over the line."

Mr Habermann said he was now looking forward to addressing the issues that had been raised with him during the campaign.

"I want to represent Division 4, but also the whole community," he said.

"In Division 4, there are particular things such as parking and kerbing near the Friendlies hospital and looking at Hanbury St, which is in a terrible state.

"I want to help try to restore confidence in the council and among the business community.

"To me, the previous council had lost touch with the people and got away from the grassroots issues, and we need to get back to those."

Sitting councillor Greg Barnes held on to Division 5 by the skin of his teeth, finishing just 80 votes clear of challenger Kerry Short.

Cr Barnes said while he was relieved at the outcome, he had been frustrated by how long it had taken to reach it.

"The length of this whole process has been pretty antiquated in this day and age - they could have done better in Bangladesh," he said.

"It was always going to be an extremely close result, but I guess no one would have expected it to be this close.

"I'm pleased I've been able to run an individual campaign, but I've had a lot of support from family, friends and strangers."

Cr Barnes said he now looked forward to getting on with the job, but he believed the council still had a few challenges ahead of it.

"I am hopeful that the new council will be more transparent, more accountable and that they will open up the meetings," he said.

"There seems to be a tendency among management to want councillors to sit around the table and discuss issues, and that's important, but I really want us to get back getting out and talking to people face to face.

"I have no doubt people feel alienated right now."

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