Gympie may be undivided

THE decision to split the Gympie region into eight electoral pieces last year could be reversed if the people reject it, Local Government Minister David Crisafulli indicated this week.

Mr Crisafulli said he would revisit the former state government's imposition of divisions here if there was strong enough support for a review from residents and the council.

The issue will join roads funding and the way the local government elections were conducted on the agenda when he visits Gympie in the next few months.

News of a possible review was welcomed by mayor Ron Dyne yesterday.

Councillor Dyne and the former council openly opposed the divisions in 2011, and were accused of doing so to protect their own positions. All but two who stood for re-election succeeded in spite of the divisions.

Cr Dyne said yesterday he still believed "you get a far better outcome from a whole of council area than a divided set-up".

"Obviously (this issue) will be determined by the residents," he said.

About 2% of the region voted in a poll on the subject last year: 248 (39%) voted against divisions and 384 (61%) for them.

"There were a lot of residents who did not participate in the poll who were very upset about getting divisions," the mayor said.

"Now I think more people are fully aware of the situation and will participate (in any new poll)."

Mr Crisafulli visited the Sunshine Coast on Friday and announced the imminent appointment of a boundary review commissioner to examine the possible de-amalgamation of Noosa from the Sunshine Coast Regional Council.

He met with the coast council and leaders of the Noosa Independence Alliance, which is spearheading the push for Noosa to break away from the amalgamated authority.

The minister said while the forced amalgamations had been brutal, new regional councils should try to make their amalgamations work effectively.

In the case of Noosa, which has lobbied hard for a split, it was only right to allow a boundary review provided all costs of any de-amalgamation are worn by the breakaway council, he said.

He said Gympie's good management of amalgamation had helped return Cr Dyne to office.

Mr Crisafulli said he was happy to revisit the divisions if that is what the region wants. "I am not someone who believes that Brisbane should be lording it over local government," he said.

"I am not a centralist. I don't believe in controlling the local community from Brisbane."

The Labor government's attitude towards local councils and its use of them as dumping grounds for failed policy had created a "toxic relationship" that Mr Crisafulli said he was working hard to repair.

The former deputy mayor of Townsville has visited Gympie only once before, as a tourist, and said he was looking forward to meeting the council and having a look around.

When asked about the chance of additional funding for road repairs he said his message to councils was that the state coffers are in a diabolical state and there are no "rivers of gold".

"We have just been through this huge boom but the state is broke," he said.

Governments at all levels must be as efficient as possible and the "days of spending like drunken soldiers" are over.

Gympie Times


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