No rea­son for coun­cil to close wa­ter de­bate

Townsville Bulletin - - Voice Of The North -

THERE is no le­git­i­mate rea­son for the Townsville City Coun­cil to close to­day’s de­bate on the fu­ture of its con­tro­ver­sial wa­ter charges. Un­der the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act, coun­cils can close meet­ings when the mat­ter re­lates to com­mer­cial ten­ders or staff ap­point­ments. How­ever, in re­cent years, in the in­ter­ests of trans­parency, coun­cils through­out Queens­land have opened bud­get meet­ings to the pub­lic. The rea­son this coun­cil has closed to­day’s meet­ing is that it doesn’t want to air its dirty linen in pub­lic be­cause there are a group of coun­cil­lors who are not happy with the way the wa­ter pric­ing is­sue has been han­dled. Strong, hon­est and open de­bate is a fun­da­men­tal tenet of west­ern democ­racy. Imag­ine if Prime Min­is­ter Ju­lia Gil­lard wanted to close Ques­tion Time be­cause Tony Ab­bott was land­ing too many punches? Coun­cil’s dra­co­nian wa­ter charges have re­sulted in a ratepayer back­lash never be­fore seen in this city. Ratepay­ers are en­ti­tled to know which coun­cil­lors are with them on this and which are not. To use the lame ex­cuse that it is State leg­is­la­tion that pre­vents them from de­bat­ing the topic in an open fo­rum is a cop out and a con­ve­nient ar­gu­ment to es­cape proper scrutiny. Coun­cil should bite the bul­let to­day and an­nounce a re­ver­sal of its cur­rent pol­icy and a re­turn to the old pric­ing model, which was much fairer and less tax­ing on ratepay­ers. Any­thing less will be howled down by the com­mu­nity. The $ 454-a-year con­nec­tion fee is a rolled gold coun­cil rev­enue-raiser which pun­ishes the frugal wa­ter users who are try­ing to do the right thing.

High­way a na­tional disgrace

HEAVY rain and flash flood­ing is ex­pected to con­tinue in the North to­day, an­other re­minder that the wet sea­son is far from over for weary res­i­dents. With the North still mop­ping up af­ter Cy­clone Yasi, the rain serves as a re­minder that liv­ing in the trop­ics can cer­tainly dish out its chal­lenges. For mo­torists, it’s a daily grind, es­pe­cially those who live in the North­ern Beaches. Mount Low Park­way re­mains a night­mare dur­ing the wet sea­son and the sooner it is fixed the bet­ter. The wider im­pli­ca­tions for heavy rain can be seen on the Bruce High­way, the main ar­te­rial road that links the east­ern seaboard from Bris­bane to Cairns. In North Queens­land, the poor state of the Bruce High­way has be­come a li­a­bil­ity. It has been closed hun­dreds of times in re­cent years be­cause of rain, dis­rupt­ing traf­fic flow and af­fect­ing the vi­a­bil­ity. It has be­come a na­tional disgrace and it is be­yond com­pre­hen­sion that the com­mon­wealth and state gov­ern­ments haven’t been able to do a joint fund­ing deal to fix it.

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