Redlands Mayor Karen Williams under fire after drinking ‘several glasses of wine’ and crashing car
A Queensland mayor purportedly declared, “we need to clean up the drink driving” before she drank “several glasses of wine” and crashed her car.
Redlands Mayor Karen Williams had presented herself as an advocate for the families of the victims of drink drivers before the crash on Thursday night.
She had campaigned with the families of pregnant couple Kate Leadbetter and Matthew Field after setting up a petition calling for an appeal against the “manifestly inadequate” 10-year jail sentence a teenager who was drunk and drug-affected when he fatally struck the couple in a stolen car.
The couple’s unborn baby Miles was also killed in the tragedy in January 2021.
On Thursday afternoon, the Redlands mayor Williams hosted an online meeting with the families, as well as Judy Lindsay whose daughter Hayley was killed in a crash involving a drink driver in 2009.
“We talked about road safety awareness, we talked about drink driving, we talked about drug driving, we talked about how we were going to change the youth justice act and how we were going to get this story out,” Lindsay told 7NEWS.
“She looked me in the face and said, ‘Judy, I’m deeply sorry about what happened to your daughter Hayley. It’s just such a tragedy’.
“She said we need to clean up the drink driving and all the issues that are happening in our community and around Queensland.”
According to Lindsay, Williams had claimed she wanted to make it her political “legacy” to address road safety issues such as drink driving.
She says the mayor rang her in tears on Friday night to apologise over the crash.
“[I told her], ‘we trusted you and you let us down … You’re the one supposed to be helping us to raise awareness and you’ve let us all down’,” Lindsay said.
“She is lucky she didn’t kill someone.”
Lindsay has called for Williams to immediately resign.
Williams has so far refused to do that.
She has admitted she had “several glasses of wine” before the crash, and admits it was a mistake getting behind the wheel but refuses to resign, saying it would be a “rash decision”.
Police are investigating the incident and no charges have been laid.
Queensland Opposition Leader David Crisafulli said his Liberal National Party colleague Williams should face consequences for her actions.
“I have zero tolerance for drunk driving, and it doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter what you do, it doesn’t matter where you live: you should never put yourself in that position,” he told reporters on Monday.
“And there has to be consequences for actions.”
Federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and Nationals leader David Littleproud have called for Williams to resign, along with state Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon and fellow Labor MP Don Brown.
Littleproud said the mayor’s position was untenable, given her advocacy for the victims of drink-drivers.
Dutton said drink-driving was “completely unacceptable” and Williams needed to set a strong example “in terms of actions, accountabilities and consequences”.
“My message, particularly as a former police officer, is to not have that extra drink. Don’t drink and drive. I mean, there’s no excuse for it, and the consequences can be deadly,” he told reporters on Sunday.