FORMER Burnett Shire Council mayor Ray Duffy announced yesterday afternoon he was throwing his famous hat in the ring to be a candidate for mayor of the Bundaberg region at next year's council elections.
But his abrupt announcement suffered an almost as abrupt setback when three criminal charges to which he pleaded guilty last year came back to haunt him.
Mr Duffy, well known around the region for the broad-brimmed hat that almost never left his head, stood for mayor of the amalgamated Bundaberg Regional Council in 2008 with the slogan “Better the Devil You Know”.
But he was soundly defeated, attracting just 9% of the vote.
In March 2009, Mr Duffy pleaded guilty in Brisbane Magistrates Court to breaches of the Local Government Act relating to undeclared gifts and financial interests in the lead-up to the 2004 elections and his time as Burnett Shire mayor.
A spokesman for the state government's Department of Infrastructure and Planning issued a statement yesterday that Mr Duffy was ineligible to run in the next election.
“Mr Duffy was given a fine of $1500 for the three offences and a conviction was recorded,” the spokesman said.
He said the convictions meant Mr Duffy could not stand for election until 2013.
But Mr Duffy was unbowed yesterday.
He said he was appealing against the severity of the sentence, and if the convictions were set aside he would be eligible to run for mayor.
Mr Duffy said he could not watch the situation in the Bundaberg region continue any longer without taking action.
“You just can't sit here and watch everything you've worked for fall down around you,” he said.
Mr Duffy said he still had plenty of personal support in the region.
He conceded he was regarded as a controversial figure, but it was because he said what he thought.