Residents support divisions
Ratepayers’ association values having councillors with local knowledge
A MEETING on keeping Bundaberg Regional Council’s divisions showed sentiment was strongly in favour of it.
Change Commissioner Walter van der Merwe called the meeting to discuss the issue after a submission was received from the council.
Isis District Residents and Ratepayers Association president John Van Barneveld said the association had put the issue to a vote and voted against abolishing divisions.
“Councillors don’t have much knowledge of how to run a rural area,” he said.
Mr Van Barneveld said local knowledge was important in the area he represented.
He said at the moment it cost about $20,000 to run an election campaign for the council.
But if divisions were abolished, it would be much more expensive.
“That would discourage new people from getting on the council,” he said.
Mr Van Barneveld said if the Childers area lost its local representative, there would be no one for residents to approach about any problems.
Wayne Kemp told the meeting it was important to have local representation.
“I’ve often seen how representation by divisions means you can stand up and have your councillor work for you,” he said.
Cr Judy Peters was the only one who spoke in favour of abolishing divisions.
She said she had a portfolio and had to work across the entire region.
“I probably get more calls from Childers and Gin Gin than I do from Kepnock,” she said.
Change Commissioner Mr van der Merwe said after the submission from the council on divisions, he had been told by Local Government Minister Jackie Trad to conduct an investigation.
He said he was doing an independent assessment of what people thought of the issue.
Mr van der Merwe said his decision was final and could not be appealed.
A decision is due in the first week in September.
The meeting was told the Change Commission was aware it was an important issue for the Bundaberg region.
Attendees were told market research would be carried out, probably by means of a phone poll.
ELECTORAL ARRANGEMENTS: People listen and provide input at a public meeting about whether councillors should be elected by divisions or represent the whole council area.