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Noosa Greens Candidate dissects LNP policy on de-amalgamation and finds a “Yes Minister” policy designed to fail

Posted by Jim McDonald on January 24, 2012

Jim McDonald, the Greens Candidate for Noosa, writes to the Noosa News about de-amalgamation:

I’d like to thank Bob Ansett for pointing out what the LNP’s website says about Noosa’s de-amalgamation because what the LNP spokesperson for Local Government, Gympie MP, David Gibson, says and doesn’t say on that website is quite different from the LNP’s actual policy.

As The Greens candidate for Noosa, I have called for a referendum to establish the ratepayers’ wishes as the primary step in giving the Noosa community the local government it really wants. This is a community-focussed process of decision-making and the role of the Government will be then to facilitate – through community consultation – any changes resulting from the community’s response.

The LNP proposal is for “an advisory poll of voters in any proposed new Local Government boundary” after a Queensland Boundaries Commissioner has prepared their “preferred options” for any changes after he or she has considered submissions from the community.

These are important differences that need to be understood by all the groups involved. The LNP offers the Noosa community an “advisory” role in a poll. The policy does not indicate what kind of poll that might be. The Greens have called for a local  referendum – let the community decide on deamalgamation not some appointed Commissioner fiddling with boundaries, “advised” by the community.

This “advisory poll” is something quite different from Mr Newman’s and Mr Gibson’s undertaking that “residents living within the proposed new council area will, by a simple majority, vote whether or not they wish to establish a new Noosa Shire Council”.

In designating a role for a Commissioner to make the decision on whether Noosa is to get the Council it wants, the LNP has developed a process that pushes the community to the side. LNP policy also will load the cost of a new Noosa Council on the residents: “ratepayers of any proposed new local authority would bear the full costs of any de-amalgamation.”

The Greens position is that if the community decides on separation the cost should be borne by the Government since it was the Queensland Government that forced amalgamation on us in the first place.

The Commissioner’s process of decision-making looks very like a “Yes Minister” scenario. I say that because the LNP policy includes the critical statement of principle: “The LNP has made it clear that its preference is for Queensland’s Councils to remain as  currently constituted to avoid any further disruption and cost for local communities.” With that statement goes any confidence that accommodating the electorate’s interests is anything more than a sop to the community’s wishes.

As a Noosa resident who favours de-amalgamation, I’m rather disappointed that Friends of Noosa and the Alliance find the LNP position so attractive since any close examination of the LNP policy shows that Campbell Newman and David Gibson have made an offer that is designed to fail the wishes of the Noosa community, and the LNP cannot be trusted to carry out their wishes.

Jim McDonald
Greens Candidate
Noosa
13 January 2012

Media Release: Greens candidate says the debate on a new Noosa Council misses the most important issue

Posted by Jim McDonald on

The Greens candidate for Noosa, Dr Jim McDonald, said that the most important issue in the de-amalgamation debate was that the State Government should give Noosa residents the Council they really want.

He said, “No-one should assume that the Noosa community as a whole still has the views that were evident in 2007 – 8. There is significant churn in this electorate as residents come and go. “At the moment, the activists and the other candidates hitching a ride on the de-amalgamation campaign only think they know. People I talk to are not of a single voice on the issue.

“We need to get away from the hysteria evident in the public debate. The State Government owes it to the people of Noosa and those communities willing to join in a new Noosa Council to conduct a referendum in the Noosa region when the State election is held.”

Dr McDonald said that a referendum in Noosa and communities wishing to join in on the establishment of a new Council would be a smart move for the Queensland Government. It would establish once and for all what Noosa people really want for their area.

He said that although the Independent Alliance had taken some of the party political spin out of the issue, the old party politics had hobbled the Noosa Council issue. “I’ve been listening for years now to Bob Ansett rail against Anna Bligh. When Friends of Noosa threw their lot behind Glen Elmes and the LNP, and claimed to speak for the residents, they cut off any opportunity for the Noosa community to negotiate separation with the Queensland Government before the Coast councils were amalgamated. They made it an Opposition campaign
issue.

“The Greens campaigned for de-amalgamation during the last State election. It is still Greens policy for Noosa. However, establishing the actual wishes of Noosa residents today is the fundamental priority in considering Noosa’s future.

“The Greens believe in strong Local Government,” he said, “but the most important point is that a separate council should not be imposed on Noosa any more than amalgamation was. If the majority want the Regional Council to work better, then the new Government should respond to that.

“Earlier this year, Greens Leader, Bob Brown, sought to strengthen local government by calling for a federal referendum to include provisions in the Constitution to protect Councils in areas like Noosa. “Meanwhile the local branches of the Labor Party remain silent. I am sure that Glen Elmes himself is sincere about de-amalgamation but the LNP makes promises that have so many back-out provisions their commitment cannot be believed.

“Considering the affordability question is critical, but the debate is off the rails. On the one side the Alliance costings would support the argument for a new council. On the other side, Cr Brennan has aligned himself with the technocrats in the Regional Council and some opposition is based almost solely on the costs.

“The Noosa Greens believe the State Government, which inflicted amalgamation on Noosa, should cover the costs of separation if the residents of Noosa and surrounding communities wishing to join with Noosa are given an opportunity to vote on it and they actually support the creation of a new Noosa Council.”

Jim McDonald
Noosa Greens Candidate
13 December 2011

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