This is justice for some and denial of democracy for others. 19 council areas attempted to regain their proper local boundaries braving the flawed and discriminatory LNP government process. Where is the justice for them?
Many other council areas were prevented from even attempting the process, ‘which was set up to fail’ according to the Mayor of Toowoomba, by the lack of timely information, and brief time frame for gathering signatures and preparing proposals.
Minister Crisafulli admitted the petitions were not his idea and were not even part of his considerations. His determination of proposals fit to go to referendum was based purely on ratepayer base – the 15 days from close of submissions to announcement of successful areas meant that smaller council areas had to be automatically ruled out – WITHOUT EVEN LOOKING AT THEIR SUBMISSIONS!
This is not democratic or even truthful, however the current LNP government expects the ratepayers of Qld to just roll over and accept this travesty because they have arbitrarily decided that Queensland can’t afford so many councils drawing on the public purse.
Every scholarly study and every piece of empirical evidence points to the fact that smaller councils based on natural boundaries are more cost effective – yet we have this failed philosophy of centralised control permeating every corner of government.
It seems that the philosophy used to justify wholesale amalgamations in recent times, has not passed the practicality test. Not that its opponents in QLGRA and in other organisations were in any doubt about it. They have long maintained that forcibly amalgamated local governments would be more expensive to run and now one of the Mayors enduring the post amalgamation stress is agreeing that the touted economic benefits of amalgamation were ‘debatable at best.’ Faced with mushrooming costs and preparing to deliver an unpopular budget to ratepayers, it is not surprising that he is looking to shift blame.
This is the same Mayor who boasted about the amalgamated local area having a greater capacity to garner loans. It would seem that he has found that reducing the voices of local governments in Qld has weakened everyone’s position. The deal with the devil has not been to his liking it seems.
Meanwhile proponents of fairer access to boundary alterations for local governments in Qld, continue to join with the QLGRA. So we gather momentum as more people realise that bigger is not better and in fact is increasingly more expensive, less responsive and undemocratic as the closest government to the people slips even further into the hands of systems and bureaucrats and completely out of the influence of the citizens it is supposed to serve.