The fi­nal ver­dict

Can­di­dates go toe-to-toe in last chance to im­press vot­ers

Isis Town and Country - - Front Page - By MATTHEW MCIN­ER­NEY

A QUES­TION from Bund­aberg Re­gional Coun­cil di­vi­sion 2 coun­cil­lor Tony Ric­cia­rdi about support for the ex­ist­ing re­gional coun­cil struc­ture spi­ralled into a heated de­bate about the dreaded “A” word in Childers on Tues­day night.

Cr Ric­cia­rdi asked the four Bur­nett can­di­dates at­tend­ing the fo­rum how they would help BRC sur­vive in its cur­rent struc­ture, cit­ing huge fi­nan­cial out­lays from coun­cil in the af­ter­math of the floods.

The in­ten­sity in the Isis Cul­tural Cen­tre stepped up a notch when Palmer United Party can­di­date Richard Love said a vote for PUP would al­low a ref­er­en­dum on de-amal­ga­ma­tion.

La­bor can­di­date Bryan Mustill also sup­ported de-amal­ga­ma­tion, say­ing the is­sue had to be looked at se­ri­ously.

In­de­pen­dent Peter Wy­att said de-amal­ga­ma­tion should be con­sid­ered not just in Bund­aberg, but across the state.

Mr Wy­att took his re­sponse back to the ini­tial ques­tion, and said coun­cils should do more to en­cour­age peo­ple to visit the re­gion.

Mem­ber for Bur­nett Stephen Ben­nett de­fended his record as sit­ting mem­ber, cit­ing his role in fight­ing on the front line for the com­mu­nity.

Mr Ben­nett said La­bor caused the pain un­der for­mer premier Peter Beat­tie, and the LNP com­mit­ted to look into the is­sue.

But while he com­mit­ted to con­tinue the dis­cus­sion into the next term if re-elected, Mr Ben­nett con­ceded he was ner­vous to take the for­mer Isis Shire through the pain if it was un­suc­cess­ful.

“Is that not cruel if we go down this path and we find out we can’t do it?” Mr Ben­nett asked the 22-strong crowd.

“I would be very ner­vous.”

In ad­di­tion to his stance on amal­ga­ma­tion, Mr Ben­nett said he did not support BRC’s moves to di­gress from its cur­rent di­vi­sion model.

Mr Ben­nett re­it­er­ated the role his gov­ern­ment had played since 2012 in en­sur­ing funds for lo­cal projects.

Cr Ric­cia­rdi dis­tanced him­self from the amal­ga­ma­tion de­bate, and re­minded can­di­dates of his ini­tial ques­tion.

“My ques­tion was about more support for re­gional coun­cils,” Cr Ric­cia­rdi said.

“We need a hand to help the re­gion grow.”

Cr Ric­cia­rdi said he would take the same ques­tion to the fed­eral de­bate too.

Greens can­di­date Colin Shep­pard did not at­tend but sent notes, in which he sup­ported a ref­er­en­dum on de-amal­ga­ma­tion.

“I would support a demo­cratic ref­er­en­dum to de­cide if they wish to re­turn to their for­mer lo­cal shire coun­cil bound­aries, or whether they wish to re­main part of the amal­ga­mated re­gional coun­cil,” Mr Shep­pard wrote.

“I would fur­ther be in­clined to support a smaller lo­cal gov­ern­ment, as it cre­ates more di­ver­sity, and op­por­tu­nity for lo­cal res­i­dents to par­tic­i­pate in gov­ern­ment.”

Palmer United Party can­di­date Richard Love A ref­er­en­dum on de-amal­ga­ma­tion is needed but I need to look at all the facts. La­bor can­di­date Bryan Mustill De-amal­ga­ma­tion needs to be looked at se­ri­ously. In­de­pen­dent can­di­date Peter Wy­att I think they need to read­just ev­ery­thing across Queens­land. Mem­ber for Bur­nett Stephen Ben­nett on de-amal­ga­ma­tion Is that not cruel if we go down this path and we find out we can’t do it? Bund­aberg Re­gional Coun­cil di­vi­sion 2 Cr Tony Ric­cia­rdi We need a hand to help the re­gion grow.

CAN­DI­DATE DE­BATE: Palmer United Party's Richard Love, La­bor Party's Bryan Mustill,

PHOTO: MAX FLEET BUN270115CHL2

In­de­pen­dent Peter Wy­att and cur­rent mem­ber for Bur­nett Stephen Ben­nett (LNP) ahead of Tues­day’s fo­rum at Childers.

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