‘Substance over sentiment’ call
THE State Government will be looking for substance over sentiment as the debate over de-amalgamation officially begins this week.
Local Government Minister David Crisafulli has revealed the process communities must follow to be considered for de-amalgamation.
It includes submitting a detailed cost estimate and a petition signed by at least 20 per cent of the voting population who are on the electoral roll.
De-amalgamation proponents would also need to demonstrate an understanding the former shire wishing to de-amalgamate will have to meet all costs involved.
Mr Crisafulli said he was taking a pragmatic approach to the decision.
“I would be more impressed by a clearly defined, articulate submission, which shows the understanding of the cost and the process of conducting a de-amalgamation, than I would by running through the streets with flags,” Mr Crisafulli said.
Key organisers of the former Douglas shire will soon be putting a submission to the newly appointed Boundaries Commissioner Colin Meng, who was mayor of the Mackay Regional Council in the four years after amalgamation.
Mr Meng was appointed to the role last Friday by the LNP Government to look at whether communities which have called on the Government to be de-amalgamated will be allowed to.
Friends of Douglas Shire (FODS) lobbied hard to have the issue put on the LNP’s agenda during the recent election campaign and is planning a march down Macrossan St to match the 2000-strong protest of August 2007 when forced amalgamation was announced.
FODS spokesman Robert Hanan said the group had its “battle plan” ready and is eager to get the community behind it.
“We’ve already started on our submission and we’ve got four-and-a-half years of documents to demonstrate that our case is strong,” he said.
“When we met with the Minister for Local Government, David Crisafulli, in Port Douglas recently to talk about the de-amalgamation, he told us we needed to present sound and solid data showing that de-amalgamation is affordable and it’s what the majority of residents want and we’re confident we can demonstrate that.”
Submissions are due by August 29 and Mr Meng will then work with the Queensland Treasury Corporation to determine the exact cost of a split if the Minister approves the submission to prepare a report.
The commissioner’s report, due by November 28, will be made public and include an analysis of the benefits and costs, financial forecasts for the de-amalgamated council, recommendations on reallocating community assets and electoral arrangements.
If approved, proposals will go to a referendum.
Mr Hanan believes the local community would be happy to pay the cost of de-amalgamation, even if it is more than the $3 million FODS estimates.