Ports North boss dumped
CAIRNS business leaders have expressed shock and disappointment at the LNP Government's move to axe Ports North chairman Ken Chapman from the role he was appointed to under Labor.
Treasurer Tim Nicholls yesterday said local lawyer and Chamber of Queensland Commerce and Industry Queensland director Brett Moller had taken over the leadership of the government-owned corporation.
The announcement came after The Cairns Post contacted the State Government to confirm rumours that Dr Chapman had been ousted.
Dr Chapman declined to comment when contacted yesterday.
Mr Moller said he was approached for the position less than a week ago and flew to Brisbane on Wednesday to meet Premier Campbell Newman to discuss the role.
"I would like to pay tribute to the former chairman Ken Chapman and his endeavours and I look forward to participating in the next chapter of the growth and development of our Far North Queensland Ports," Mr Moller said.
Dr Chapman was installed by Labor as the chairman in July 2010 and his term was due to end in September this year.
He is the ninth chairperson to be dumped from government owned corporations since the LNP won power in March.
Mr Nicholls said the leadership changes were "aimed at ensuring that the businesses are run effectively, efficiently and with due regard to taxpayers’ funds."
"The new chairs will work with the Premier, myself and respective portfolio ministers to implement the LNP Government’s agenda," he said.
Business leaders praised Dr Chapman for his wide-ranging leadership in the community.
Clive Skarott, who served as Ports North chairman before Dr Chapman, was dismayed about the forced removal.
"I’m very disappointed because I think Ken’s an excellent person and he was doing an excellent job," Mr Skarott said.
Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said Dr Chapman would be "a loss to Ports North."
"Ken can be very proud of what he’s achieved in that time," he said.
"The Chapman family has provided long and distinguished service for this community and Ken has been a part of that."
A leading businessman, who asked not to be named, slammed the Newman Government move.
He said Dr Chapman was apolitical and his family came from the conservative side of politics.
"This is crazy. They have a mandate but they should use it wisely, not start barrelling people out of positions because they may be perceived as being left wing."
Chamber of Commerce president Anthony Mirotsis said: "under Ken’s leadership there’s been a number of positive improvements of the Port facilities and we congratulate him".
Advance Cairns chairman Cam Charlton said he "acknowledged and commended Dr Chapman for the considerable contribution that he has made during his term of appointment as chairman."
Former Advance Cairns chairman and lawyer Russell Beer said he worked "very well" with Dr Chapman who "added real value to Ports North".
Dr Chapman was an independent director of the board and a member of the audit and risk and human resources committee.
He is an executive director of the Chapman Group of Companies, a director of Skyrail and he was appointed chairman of the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation in July 2009.
Mulgrave Labor MP Curtis Pitt called on the Government to provide a rationale for the former chairmen of government-owned corporations being scrapped.
"It can’t just be that the Premier wants to put a broom through these statutory bodies," he said.
"They have to justify why someone has not performed."
Member for Cairns Gavin King was not available for comment yesterday.
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Moving on: Ex-Ports North chairman Ken Chapman.