POLITICS, they say, is a dirty game.

This is not always true but there has seldom been a shortage of incidents in the halls of power at any of the tiers of government, and Gympie is no exception.

The following are five of the most famous political dramas to rock the region.

1. Police minister without a driver's licence

FORMER Gympie MP David Gibson may hold the record for shortest stint on the State Parliament's front bench after the former police minister was caught driving without a licence.

Mr Gibson held the role for only 14 days before voluntarily resigning from the position.

David Gibson. Photo Patrick Woods / The Gympie Times
David Gibson. Photo Patrick Woods / The Gympie Times

He lost his licence after failing to pay a fine and said he was unaware of the suspension.

"I can say unequivocally, that at no time did I receive any notification that my licence was suspended or about to be suspended for not paying a fine," he said at the press conference announcing his resignation.

Premier Campbell Newman said he regretted the loss of Mr Gibson but he had to take a firm line on ministerial accountability.

"The first thing he did is sped, he's broken the law. That is not a hanging offence but then he has failed to pay the fine," Mr Newman said.

"He then, it appears, completely ignored the process of the State Penalties and Enforcement Register organisation and then ended up being suspended.

Campbell Newman. Pic Annette Dew
Campbell Newman. Pic Annette Dew

"Then he may well have driven while suspended and then allegedly he committed another driving offence.

"(Mr Gibson) was unable to give me a satisfactory explanation, sadly.

"I'm totally satisfied he did see at least one item of correspondence from SPER and I can't understand why he would not take action to pay the fine."

Mr Gibson was fined $300 and banned from driving for one month.

No conviction was recorded.

2. O'Brien at centre of Gibson storm

WIDE Bay MP Llew O'Brien was at the centre of the storm when Mr Gibson left parliament.

In 2014, then-LNP member Scott Elms leaked details that revealed Mr Gibson had been put on a good behaviour bond with a $100 recognisance in 1999 by the ACT Magistrates Court after being guilty of theft for funnelling army funds of $7335 into personal accounts.

Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien.
Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien.

No conviction was recorded against Mr Gibson.

This caused Mr Gibson to suffer a nervous breakdown and he used parliamentary privilege to allege Mr O'Brien, a police officer at the time, had made politically menacing threats.

Mr Elms was expelled from the LNP over the leak.

Mr O'Brien was cleared of involvement in the "inappropriate" public release of the criminal allegations which ended Mr Gibson's political career.

It was later revealed a police ethical standards command investigation found Mr O'Brien had "inappropriately accessed Queensland Police Service information pertaining to two Liberal National party preselection candidates for the seat of Nanango prior to the 2012 state election".

The investigation was started after legally suppressed information about Mr Gibson was revealed publicly.

Scott Elms. Photo Patrick Woods / The Gympie Times
Scott Elms. Photo Patrick Woods / The Gympie Times

"A letter from the Queensland Police Service to Mr Gibson at the completion of the investigation says Mr O'Brien faced "managerial action" over the substantiated claims regarding Nanango.

At the time Mr O'Brien said he could not comment on the matter, as it was operational.

However, he said no adverse finding had been recorded on police record in the wake of the investigation, and he was cleared of other allegations made against him.

Mr O'Brien was then accused by another outgoing LNP member of being part of a campaign to destroy Mr Gibson.

The LNP backed Mr O'Brien and said the complainant had "never made a formal complaint against Llew O'Brien, who is a well-regarded member of the LNP".

3. Let's not talk about divisions

WHEN it comes to asking the public's opinion and then doing whatever you want, there may be no better example than Gympie Regional Council in 2011.

Gympie Regional Council’s divisions for the 2020 eletion, almost a decade after the idea nearly failed to materialise after the council chose to ignore the results of its own public consultation.
Gympie Regional Council’s divisions for the 2020 eletion, almost a decade after the idea nearly failed to materialise after the council chose to ignore the results of its own public consultation.

In the wake of amalgamation and a council which originally had no divisions, th eidea of splitting the council area into divisions was floated

Most councillors were against the idea.

Public surveys revealed residents wanted divisions.

But the council, including then mayor Ron Dyne, decided against this, calling the surveys a failure - right up until the State Government stepped in.

The Electoral Commission ultimately concluded the system the public said it wanted was the system Gympie should have, and it has remained in place ever since.

4. Brawl at the council

GYMPIE Regional Council's normally quiet and peaceful Mary St offices turned into a crime scene in May 2016, when a sovereign land-rights protest turned into a brawl.

Wit-boooka (charged as Gary Tomlinson), of Southside, Djaki Widjung (Diane Redden-King), of Curra, and Djaa 'mee Gular Djan du Kabi (Mervyn Tomlinson), of Bundaberg were each charged with multiple offences including forcible entry, common assault, and assault with bodily harm against then mayor Mick Curran.

Mayor Mick Curran captured during the melee at Gympie council’s Mary St office in 2016..
Mayor Mick Curran captured during the melee at Gympie council’s Mary St office in 2016..

The case went to trial at the District Court, where the court heard Wit-boooka jumped the council's front reception counter and told staff he was evicting them and they should leave if they did not want to get hurt.

Senior executive Dimitri Scordalides and another temporary staff member tried to intervene and block Wit-boooka's path; he pushed them back in what Judge Bernard Porter called "an aggressive act done in anger".

Mr Curran then approached and "agreed to talk to (Wit-boooka) if he went outside".

"Soon after that, Mr Curran struck (Wit-boooka) with an open hand to the bridge of his nose, which broke," Mr Porter told the court during sentencing.

"This sparked off a melee in which (Wit-boooka) struggled with Mr Curran."

No charges were laid against Mr Curran, and no adverse comments were made by the judge about his conduct.

Wit-boooka, Diane Redden-King and Mervyn Tomlinson outside Gympie District Court.
Wit-boooka, Diane Redden-King and Mervyn Tomlinson outside Gympie District Court.

Wit-boooka was found guilty of three counts of common assault and forcible entry to the council's non-public area.

Djaa 'mee Gular Djan du Kabi was found guilty of one charge of serious assault on a police officer.

Djaki Widjung was acquitted of all charges against her.

The three were acquitted of all charges alleging harm against Mr Curran.

It was later revealed the trial was itself engulfed in controversy over disappearing evidence (camera footage taken by Djaki Widjung on her phone, later recovered without audio) and jury tampering.

5. One Nation, no party

GYMPIE was at the centre of an orange revolt in 2001 when voters tired of the two-party system and handed the reins to One Nation's Elisa Roberts.

It was one of three seats the party won at that election, but no more than a year later that was reduced to two when Miss Roberts defected and became an Independent.

Elisa Roberts.
Elisa Roberts.

Last year she claimed her refusal to support theories that the Port Arthur Massacre was "orchestrated by John Howard" was a driving force behind the party's decision to snub her after she won the seat.

It was this, she said, that drove her to walk out of the party,

Miss Roberts lost the seat in 2006, and in 2008, the year before she took another shot at reclaiming the seat.

Gympie Times

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