DIVISION TO STAY
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, mailed to the commission or submitted online at www.ecq.qld.gov.au by 5pm on July 17.