Op­pos­ing views on coun­cil di­vi­sions

Isis Town and Country - - News -

BUND­ABERG Re­gional Coun­cil di­vi­sions were the hot topic at Tues­day night’s Isis Dis­trict Res­i­dents and Ratepay­ers meet­ing.

Held at Isis Club, a good turnout heard Bur­nett MP Stephen Bennett, Di­vi­sion Two coun­cil­lor Tony Ricciardi and Di­vi­sion Five coun­cil­lor Greg Barnes give their views on the topic.

In De­cem­ber, coun­cil­lors voted 8–3 in favour of ask­ing the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter to forgo the 10 di­vi­sions in favour of di­rect elec­tion of all coun­cil­lors.

Mr Bennett was stead­fastly against the move, cit­ing is­sues in Glad­stone Re­gional Coun­cil’s out­ly­ing ar­eas.

Res­i­dents in those ar­eas have claimed they aren’t fairly rep­re­sented due to the coun­cil fo­cussing on ar­eas im­me­di­ately sur­round­ing Glad­stone.

“If I get the op­por­tu­nity to talk against un­di­vided rep­re­sen­ta­tion then I will,” Mr Bennett said.

“My role is to rep­re­sent the res­i­dents, but th­ese are my per­sonal views.

“You only have to look at what’s hap­pened at Glad­stone.”

Cr Barnes said he fought hard to have rep­re­sen­ta­tion in all ar­eas.

He cited three sur­veys the Bund­aberg coun­cil con­ducted in 2009, 2010 and 2013, where the ma­jor­ity of res­i­dents said they did not want the sys­tem to change.

“The com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the min­is­ter doesn’t in­clude the sur­vey re­sults,” Cr Barnes said.

“I was told if we put the com­mu­nity didn’t want (change), it would weaken the ar­gu­ment. If we are un­di­vided then you may not have any rep­re­sen­ta­tion.”

Cr Ricciardi was one of the eight coun­cil­lors who voted in favour of writ­ing to the min­is­ter.

He said his de­ci­sion was driven by both the fi­nan­cial bur­den on the coun­cil and the de­sire to take the process out of BRC’s hands.

“The only way to get peo­ple in­volved is to send it to the min­is­ter,” he said.

“You have to un­der­stand, coun­cil is not just about look­ing af­ter the di­vi­sion, we have to look at the re­gion as a whole.”

Cr Ricciardi said he thrived on com­pe­ti­tion but at the last coun­cil elec­tion he and three other coun­cil­lors were elected un­op­posed.

That could change at next year’s elec­tion due to a new process that will see the nom­i­nees put up on a board so res­i­dents can see who is run­ning and de­cide if they want to run as well.

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