The Local Government Association of Queensland CEO Greg Hallam. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
The Local Government Association of Queensland CEO Greg Hallam. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

LGAQ attempt at 'pre-election brainwashing' denounced

Letter to the editor

 

MY INTEREST sparked by Shelley Strachan's incisive editorial comment "Intriguing election countdown (The Gympie Times, Tuesday, January 21), I checked out the source of LGAQ CEO Greg Hallam's sanguine view that there is "nothing rotten" in the state of Queensland and that most Queenslanders are happy with the performance of their local councils.

It seems Mr Hallam felt the need for a little timely pre-election brainwashing of disenchanted ratepayers.

Gympie Council Hilary Smerdon, Dan Stewart, Glen Hartwig, Bob Leitch, Mick Curran, Bob Fredman, Mal Gear, Daryl Dodt and Mark McDonald.
Gympie Council Hilary Smerdon, Dan Stewart, Glen Hartwig, Bob Leitch, Mick Curran, Bob Fredman, Mal Gear, Daryl Dodt and Mark McDonald.

So, instead of talking to voters, he commissioned an international firm to do a survey which purported to find some surprisingly convenient results. Sound familiar?

Those results include a recent surge in public confidence that councils are doing a great job in providing appropriate infrastructure and economic development and that their conduct is generally open and transparent.

In addition, it seems, we have forgotten the corruption exposed in Ipswich and Logan and lesser scandals in various other regional jurisdictions, or are willing to pretend they didn't happen or could not happen again.

Apparently we have developed a high level of trust in our councils in recent months.

But it turns out that the touted increased trust in local government is merely an indication of a lesser distrust than that which we feel towards state and federal institutions.

Greg Hallam, LGAQ chief, with his three-year-old bay gelding Surface to Surface. For Des Houghton PS column.
Greg Hallam, LGAQ chief, with his three-year-old bay gelding Surface to Surface. For Des Houghton PS column.

The terms of reference for the survey must have allowed for this totally irrelevant comparison.

Reminded me of the report commissioned by our own council into the maintenance of our regional roads and received at (the recent) meeting.

The report indicated, to the apparent satisfaction of councillors, that our systems of maintenance of gravel roads are comparable with (that is no worse than) those of our neighbours, or was it those of similar regions?

The report did, however, identify 15 areas for improvement.

Gympie Council CEO Bernard Smith and Mayor Mick Curran.
Gympie Council CEO Bernard Smith and Mayor Mick Curran.

Anyway, buoyed by the favourable results of his survey, Mr Hallam predicted that March will see "...a normal election... with an increasing number of Queenslanders happy with the direction, style and performance of their council".

Presumably he means that most councils will be re-elected.

But the election will be a survey of a very different kind, so, as Ms Strachan points out, March 28 will reveal whether Mr Hallam has correctly assessed the mood of the people toward the Gympie Regional Council.

Merv Welch, The Palms

Gympie region ratepayer and commentator

Gympie Times


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