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Controversial councillor runs for seat in state election

Cr Mike Brunker will run for the seat of McMaster at the next state election, while taking a leave of absense from council.
Cr Mike Brunker will run for the seat of McMaster at the next state election, while taking a leave of absense from council. Peter Carruthers

WHITSUNDAY councillor and former mayor Mike Brunker will contest the seat of McMaster for the Labor party at the next state election.

Cr Brunker, who is a former coal miner and CFMEU representative, believed the recent redistribution of electoral boundaries would heighten his chances, given the electorate would now take in major Bowen Basin coal mining communities.

Coupled with his lengthy experience in local government, he was confident he'd have the edge over competition.

The seat, which is currently called the Burdekin electorate, is held by the LNP's Dale Last.

One Nation's Sam Cox, a former LNP MP, has also put his hand up to contest the seat.

"Dale's a nice fella but nice people don't necessarily make good politicians,” Mr Brunker said.

"Then you get Sam Cox he's the One Nation person. He might be the smartest of the One Nation candidates around. He's not going to support Putin and support some of the things his leader is and they'll end up collapsing again.

"With me you know what you're going to get.”

Before being elected a Whitsunday Regional Councillor last year, Cr Brunker had already served as mayor of the Bowen Shire and the Whitsunday Council for 17 years.

Despite the longevity of his stint, during that time he made headlines for getting in a fist fight with a turf club president, and his council's handling of finances, for which it was eventually cleared of wrongdoing.

He previously ran for the federal seat of Dawson against George Christensen while taking a leave of absence as Whitsunday mayor.

That's what he plans to do when the next state election comes up, rather than resigning from council: "because if you don't get elected you're out of a job then aren't you?”

But if he was successful, his resignation from council may force a by-election.

While Cr Brunker was critical of former councillor Kevin Collins when he resigned from the Whitsunday council in 2014 and triggered a by-election, he said the two situations were completely different.

"I'm certainly not just resigning and going to put my feet up in the hammock. I want to take our issues... advance them into the state. I'm trying to better our position,” he said.

"I think the council will be very happy they can get a local councillor that's a state member. It's going to be a very strong economical seat - mining, cane and beef. It will be a very strong advocacy role that's needed to take it forward.”

In the meantime, he didn't believe his state election campaign would conflict with his duties as a councillor.

"It's the same issues. People ring you up and complain about barking dogs and (ask you to) look at creeks and all that sort of stuff,” he said.

He is yet to secure pre-selection from the Labor party.

Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox, who is currently touring India with other Queensland mayors, was contacted for comment about Cr Brunker's candidacy.

He said "if that's what he wants to do I wish him all the best”. But he wasn't sure what impact it would have on council, stating he'll "have to straighten all that out” when he returns.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has until April next year to call the election.

Objections and submissions to the Queensland Redistribution Commission's plan to redraw boundaries and create new state electorates like McMaster are open until 5pm March 27.

Topics:  mike brunker state election whitsunday regional council

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