Boundaries commissioner named
FORMER Mackay mayor Colin Meng has been recruited to assess local councils' cases for de-amalgamation.
In Townsville this morning, Local Government Minister David Crisafulli announced Mr Meng as Queensland's boundaries commissioner, in line with an LNP election promise.
Mr Meng will work with councils across the state dissatisfied with the 2008 forced amalgamations, including Noosa and Whitsunday councils.
Groups wishing to split have until August 29 to submit their case to the Local Government Minister, who will then decide which cases are forwarded to Mr Meng.
Mr Meng will assess the costs involved with the Queensland Treasury Corporation before submitting an analysis report by November 28.
The report 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 de-amalgamation is approved, the proposal will go to a referendum in the relevant area where residents wishing to break away can vote for or against the issue.
Groups keen to break away need to provide a petition signed by 20% of the voting population, a detailed estimate of costs and a community-backed submission based on the pre-amalgamation council boundaries.
They also need to show an understanding they will foot the bill.
Mr Meng will be on hand to assist all applying bodies throughout the process.
The former Mackay regional council mayor is familiar with the emotional issue having led Mackay council immediately after its restructure.
"Queenslanders feel very strongly about their communities and there is no doubt that some still feel they lost their identity during the forced amalgamations in 2008. This process will help them look to the future," Mr Meng said.
Mr Crisafulli said the de-amalgamation process would not be easy but communities deserved to put their case forward.
"We would prefer councils try to make amalgamation work because, despite the pain and suffering Labor put many communities through, the social and financial costs to de-amalgamate could be even worse," Mr Crisafulli said.
"While many councils have moved on after the brutal amalgamations, in a handful of cases, the wounds are still raw."
Earlier this month, Whitsunday Regional Council agreed to prepare a report on de-amalgamating following support from Mining Communities United.
Noosa has been a vocal contender for de-amalgamation from the Sunshine Coast Regional Council with the group even commissioning their own independent report into the costs.
Any council wishing to de-amalgamate will need to:
- Provide a strong, evidence-based, community-backed submission based on the pre-amalgamation local government boundaries.
- Table a detailed estimate of the potential financial costs.
- Demonstrate an understanding that the former shire wishing to de-amalgamate will have to meet all costs involved.
- Provide a petition signed by at least 20% of the voting population.
- Provide this information in a submission to the Local Government Minister by August 29