Gympie stuck with merger

NOOSA may have the political will and financial clout to unscramble the council amalgamation egg.

But Gympie Regional Council could not afford it, councillors agreed yesterday.

"It cost us $1 million to amalgamate (the former Cooloola, Kilkivan and part of Tiaro shires) and I believe it would cost us even more to de-amalgamate," Mayor Ron Dyne said.

"I believe we're probably one of the best successes of amalgamation. Why pull apart something that's working?"

"In a word, 'No," was the reaction from Cooloola Coast councillor Mark McDonald.

"It's just the cost and where we've got to since amalgamation. To undo that will cause a whole lot of hurt to people already hurting.

"Noosa might have the money to sustain it."

Gympie councillors Rae Gate and Wayne Sachs also rejected the idea.

"I believe what we've got here is working quite well," Cr Gate said.

Cr Sachs said: "We've got everything bedded down pretty well now. This was one of the success stories. It would be far too expensive (to de-amalgamate). It's out of the question," he said.

Mary Valley and Traveston councillor Julie Walker also said no. "In the first amalgamation (when Gympie City combined with Widgee Shire), I'd have said 'Yes please!'

"It was a rough trot, them and us. But this time round, everybody got along and it's settled in quite well.

"It would cost an absolute fortune (to de-merge).

"What I have heard people talking about is getting rid of divisions. I'm really happy the way I am.

"It gives me the chance to focus on my area, not that I'm ignoring others."

Amalgamation critic Ian Petersen shared the scrambled egg analogy.

"I was opposed to amalgamation and I remain unconvinced that it was a good move for Gympie, but you can't unscramble an egg.

"I suspect it would be a hellishly expensive job.

"It cost a lot to put it together, it would cost a hell of a lot to pull it apart again.

"It was bad for Gympie ratepayers, but pretty good for Kilkivan because they had a low rate base and were struggling.

Former Kilkivan Shire area representative Tony Perrett said there had been six months' worth of effort in the lead-up to combining the old shires into the new region.

"To put it back would be an enormous challenge," he said. "Whether people like it or not, we've got it.

"I spoke to Local Government Minister David Crisafulli and he said arguments for him to allow breakaways will be listened to but will have to be compelling."

Breakaway councils would also have to realise that state government subsidies which made infrastructure projects viable - like Kilkivan's water supply - would no longer be available.

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