29 June 2012
De-amalgamation Update Port Douglas
This Sunday marks the first hundred days of the new LNP State Government and we anticipate that sometime today (Friday 29 June) the Minister for Local Government, the Hon. David Crisafulli, will announce the appointment of a Boundaries Commissioner along with the terms of reference for the appointment.
FODS met with Minister on May 24th in Port Douglas to discuss the probable steps in a de-amalgamation process. This appointment is the beginning of that process but we have a long way to go and much work to do and will need your help.
The Commissioner will look into the financial viability of the split and its implications for both the Douglas and Cairns communities. The Minister indicated that the actual boundaries would revert back to those that existed before amalgamation. There will be a two month period for the community to make submissions to the Commissioner.
FODS has begun constructing our case but we need to see the terms of reference to understand what format and content the submissions should have.
FODS will be in touch again this weekend once we have examined the terms of reference and are better able to outline how you can all help. Given the way things are going within CRC we need our Shire back more than ever.
The Honourable David Crisafulli
Mr Meng will examine proposals from former councils who show strong community interest in returning to their 2008 boundaries.
Local Government Minister David Crisafulli said the de-amalgamation process won’t be easy but communities deserve the right to put forward a case.
“We would prefer councils try to make amalgamation work because, despite the pain and suffering Labor put many communities through, the social and financial costs to de-amalgamate could be even worse,” Mr Crisafulli said.
“While many councils have moved on after the brutal amalgamations, in a handful of cases, the wounds are still raw.
“We believe in giving local communities the chance to put forward a case to return to their former shires but with a full understanding there will be costs involved.”
Any council wishing to de-amalgamate will need to:
• Provide a strong, evidence-based, community-backed submission based on the pre-amalgamation local government boundaries.
• Table a detailed estimate of the potential financial costs.
• Demonstrate an understanding that the former shire wishing to de-amalgamate will have to meet all costs involved.
• Provide a petition signed by at least 20 per cent of the voting population.
The Commissioner will assist the communities as they prepare their submissions, which must be made to the Minister by August 29.
The Minister will decide which submissions meet the criteria and pass them on to Mr Meng who will work with the Queensland Treasury Corporation to determine the exact financial costs of de-amalgamation.
The commissioner’s report, due by November 28, will be made public and include an analysis of the benefits and costs, financial forecasts for the de-amalgamated council, recommendations on reallocating community assets and electoral arrangements.
If approved, proposals will go to a referendum where residents in the area wishing to break away can vote for or against the de-amalgamation.
Mr Meng served as Mayor of Mackay Regional Council for the four-year period immediately following amalgamations and has a good understanding of local government.
“Queenslanders feel very strongly about their communities and there is no doubt that some still feel they lost their identity during the forced amalgamations in 2008. This process will help them look to the future,” Mr Meng said.
The appointment of the boundaries commissioner was one of the State Government’s First 100-day Action Plan commitments and a key component of its Empowering Local Government policy platform.
The Terms of Reference are available on the Boundaries Commission website at www.qld.gov.au/deamalgamation.
[Ends] 29 June, 2012
Media contact: Monica Rostron 0409 126 332