LETTER: Council should at least explore de-amalgamation
STUDY after study has found that the benefits of regional amalgamation have failed to materialise.
Costs generally increase after amalgamation, largely due to a harmonisation of costs and wages, and increases in service-efficiency remain elusive. The transitional costs after amalgamation are often quite high and, in some cases, reduce or even eliminate any anticipated immediate cost savings.
Mounting evidence suggests that amalgamation on the Fraser Coast (three quarters of the Wide Bay is part of this council) has not led to more efficient service production or delivery.
Regional mergers reduce competition between regions, which weakens incentives for efficiency and responsiveness to local needs, while also reducing the choice for residents to find a community that best matches their ideal taxation and service rates.
Since regional mergers rarely result in boundaries that encompass the entire region, externalities may still exist in transportation and land-use planning. Regional amalgamations have sometimes forced rural residents to pay for urban services they do not have access to.
With so many negative aspects, it’s no surprise that local restructuring proposals have often been met with stiff resistance from local residents.
It also comes as no surprise that many residents argue that their communities were better off prior to consolidation. In the wake of lingering resentment regarding amalgamation, de-amalgamation is often suggested as a solution.
We have seen the call for de-amalgamation emerge in many cities and towns across Queensland. There is no reason why de-amalgamation cannot be pursued. Provincial governments have the ability to amalgamate regions and, therefore, also have the ability to separate them.
The difficulty in successfully implementing de-amalgamation means that amalgamation is something that cannot, and should not be easily entered into. More care needs to be taken in finding the best institutional structure for our local government.
Chris Loft was asked for his standing on a referendum for de-amalgamation of Maryborough, Tiaro and Woocoo Shires and boundaries joined to make one city pre-election and writes “Yes let the process begin. We must listen to community.” So why did he vote against it?
Anne Maddern Councillor for Division 2 sitting under the allocated Small Communities portfolio is trying to represent her community’s aspirations, but unfortunately not many of her fellow colleagues seem to be supporting her which in turn means they are telling the community “we are not listening. We don’t care, we will do what we want”.
What are they scared of? Is the council worried they may get a drop in pay? There is no reason why council cannot have a conversation about this with people and initiate a poll considering in excess of 9000 people wanting it that I know of.
Under the LGA, councillors have to listen and report back to the people. They have failed Chapter 1 4,2C Democratic representation, social inclusion, and meaningful community engagement.
Candidate for Wide Bay,
Glen Lazarus Team.