The final verdict
Candidates go toe-to-toe in last chance to impress voters
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,
Independent Peter Wyatt and current member for Burnett Stephen Bennett (LNP) ahead of Tuesday’s forum at Childers.