‘Sub­stance over sen­ti­ment’ call

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - PAUL MIL­TON BUT­LER

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.

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