DI­VI­SION TO STAY

Isis Town and Country - - Front Page - By LEAH KIDD

AT­TEN­TION will now turn to changes to Bund­aberg Re­gional Coun­cil’s di­vi­sion bound­aries af­ter its re­quest to abol­ish di­vi­sions was re­jected.

The Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Change Com­mis­sion an­nounced on Fri­day there was in­suf­fi­cient public sup­port for the move and that Bund­aberg’s 10 di­vi­sions, in­clud­ing Isis, would re­main for next year’s elec­tions.

Isis Dis­trict Res­i­dents and Ratepay­ers As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent John van Barn­eveld said the de­ci­sion was the right one for the Childers com­mu­nity.

“I thought it was the sen­si­ble de­ci­sion to make,” he said.

“I al­ways thought the rea­sons ad­vanced, par­tic­u­larly by coun­cil, were fairly weak.”

In De­cem­ber, the coun­cil voted to ask for the end of di­vi­sions, say­ing there was com­mu­nity sup­port for an un­di­vided coun­cil, which it said would be more prac­ti­cal to run.

A sur­vey com­mis­sioned by the Change Com­mis­sion found 51% of re­spon­dents sup­ported the idea, 32% were against it and 16% were un­sure.

But it said the sur­vey of 400 peo­ple – which had a 5% mar­gin of er­ror – wasn’t large enough to base a de­ci­sion from.

The com­mis­sion also re­ceived just 25 sub­mis­sions in favour of re­mov­ing di­vi­sions in con­trast to 681 against dur­ing public con­sul­ta­tion.

Three pe­ti­tions against re­mov­ing di­vi­sions were signed by 646 peo­ple.

In their re­port, com­mis­sion­ers Wal­ter van der Merwe and Gre­gory Rowe said their de­ci­sion had not been clear-cut but they had not been per­suaded there was strong enough sup­port for an un­di­vided sys­tem.

Bund­aberg Mayor Mal For­man made no se­cret of his ad­vo­cacy for abol­ish­ing di­vi­sional rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

Cr For­man felt abol­ish­ing di­vi­sions would have given “a bet­ter level of bal­ance” in gov­ern­ment.

“Pos­si­bly there’s also a silent ma­jor­ity who don’t say enough or talk enough or make enough noise,” he said.

“I know the ones that wanted to re­tain the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion with di­vi­sions – they were very vo­cal and out­spo­ken and that has a part to play too I be­lieve.”

How­ever, Mr van Barn­eveld said those who wanted to re­tain di­vi­sions were not a vo­cal mi­nor­ity.

“I think that in­sults the elec­toral com­mis­sion­ers who pub­lished a 39-page re­port giv­ing many rea­sons and show­ing re­search for how they ar­rived at their de­ci­sion,” he said.

The Change Com­mis­sion’s next job now is to re­draw bound­aries, with elec­tors in di­vi­sions 5 and 6 and pos­si­bly 4 out­num­ber­ing the oth­ers by too great a mar­gin.

The Change Com­mis­sion is now ac­cept­ing sug­ges­tions about the bound­ary re­draw.

They can be emailed to bund­aber­gre­gion­al­coun­cil­re­view@ecq.qld.gov.au, mailed to the com­mis­sion or sub­mit­ted online at www.ecq.qld.gov.au by 5pm on July 17.

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