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    Minister for Local Government, Community Recovery and Resilience
    The Honourable David Crisafulli

    Shires to vote on de-amalgamation

    Minister for Local Government, Community Recovery and Resilience
    The Honourable David Crisafulli

    Thursday, December 06, 2012

    Shires to vote on de-amalgamation

    Residents in four former Queensland council areas will go to the polls to decide if they return to their old shires.

    Local Government Minister David Crisafulli today announced referendums would be held in the former Noosa, Livingstone, Mareeba and Douglas shires.

    A poll will not go ahead in Isis, to split with Bundaberg Regional Council, because the council would be financially distressed from day one.

    “The Government has always been firm that despite the brutality of the forced amalgamations in 2008, we would prefer the regional councils to work,” Mr Crisafulli said.

    “We’ve also said we’ll give communities the opportunity to vote where there’s a chance a viable council could be created.

    “But it needs to be done with all of the facts on the table and people will have to make a judgement about whether reverting to an independent council is worth the financial pain.”

    The Boundaries Commissioner Col Meng handed Mr Crisafulli the report on November 28, which recommended only Noosa go to a referendum.

    “In line with my views that whenever possible it should be local communities that control their destinies, I have referred four through to the final stage of a public poll,” Mr Crisafulli said.

    “I am being upfront with these communities in saying that at the end of it there will be greater costs, and in some cases, a weaker council.

    “It will be up to them to decide if the community gain is worth the financial pain.

    “Five years after the brutal forced amalgamations, it was always going to be difficult to separate an amalgamated council.  

    “Residents will go to the polls armed with all the facts, including how much it would cost to re-establish the council, and how much it would cost each ratepayer.”

    Mr Meng and Queensland Treasury Corporation (QTC) have spent the past two months working with the proponents, stakeholders and councils in each area to calculate all of the costs involved.

    Mr Meng’s report included:

    ·         wage costs for a mayor and councillors

    ·         wage costs for council staff

    ·         cost of equipment and IT

    ·         cost of de-amalgamation to the remaining council

    ·         cost of conducting a referendum

    ·         ongoing costs, such as annual licencing fees and insurance

    “No doubt there are costs, but if the community feels that the pain in the pocket is worth the price for an independent council area, they’ll get their old council back,” Mr Crisafulli said.

    Mr Crisafulli said Noosa was clearly the most capable of pulling off a viable separation, followed by Livingstone, Mareeba and Port Douglas.

    He rated the likelihood of each proposed new council achieving a sustainable future:

    Council

    Chances of long-term viability

    Noosa

    Good

    Livingstone

    Medium

    Mareeba

    Unlikely

    Douglas

    Highly unlikely

    Isis

    Nil

    Only residents in the former council area will vote, with referendums to be held in the first quarter of 2013. Voting will be compulsory.

    The Queensland Boundaries Commissioner reports on each area are at Boundaries reports or http://www.dlg.qld.gov.au/bc/.

    [ENDS] 6 December, 2012

    Media Contact: Andrew Longmire 0418 216 627