Future shock is 'overwhelming'

THE Gympie Region community will be divided in more ways than one if the State Government adopts new recommendations to re-introduce divisional representation to the council at its next election.

While some want a return to divisional representation, councillors say it is increasingly hard to keep up with almost continuous and expensive changes imposed by the State Government.

One supporter of a return to divisions is Gympie MP David Gibson, who says people have so many councillors to contact, they do not know who can be held responsible for their concerns.

After having eliminated the council divisions (or electorates) which applied in the former Cooloola and Tiaro Shires and compelling the new amalgamated Gympie Regional Council to be elected without divisions (that is, with all councillors and the Mayor elected over the whole council area), the government is now considering recommendations from the Parliamentary Law Justice and Safety Committee, which wants to change things back.

Mayor Ron Dyne says councillors are getting the blame for rates rises needed to cope with the costs of government requirements.

“We’ve had to make all the hard decisions and I have no doubt people are hurting.

“But they are the result of State Government decisions which we have to implement.

“That includes the rates increases that had to be done for council amalgamation and compliance paperwork.

“We had to rationalise the rates differences among three different councils, with Gympie, Kilkivan and Tiaro now amalgamated.

“We have to prepare community plans, work within the Statutory Regional Plan, we have to have an infrastructure asset management plan.”

It has, he said, been very expensive for council and its ratepayers, in addition to councils suffering a bad case of future shock.

“It’s very difficult to keep up.

“Local Government is up to here with change. We haven’t had any breathing space.

“It’s just overwhelming. We haven’t had time to consolidate anything.

“I think it’s just an excuse to defray the issues from their own province. Dare I say it, but if they put the same effort into fixing the hospital pay system as they do into local government, we wouldn’t be in the predicament we’re in.

“It’s just one battle after another. They say we can make submissions if we can demonstrate that we have consulted the community, but how do we do that?

“If we have town meetings, they will often be dominated by a minority,” he said.

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