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Labor warns on costly civic split

Greens candidate Jim McDonald, Labor’s Kurt Hopkins and Katter’s Australian Party candidate Bob Jarvis speak at Noosa Parks Association.
Greens candidate Jim McDonald, Labor’s Kurt Hopkins and Katter’s Australian Party candidate Bob Jarvis speak at Noosa Parks Association. Geoff Potter

STATE Labor candidate for Noosa Kurt Hopkins has bought into the Coast council de-amalgamation costing debate, saying ratepayers can not afford the hike in charges needed to break free.

Mr Hopkins has warned Noosa residents against voting for an LNP change of government on March 24, which could see a boundary review and a split that a Sunshine Coast Council consultant has priced between $16.6 million and $31.5 million.

"The LNP has been clever and told the groups like the Noosa Independence Alliance what they want to hear, but in reality an LNP government won't foot the bill and the entire financial burden will belong to Noosa ratepayers," Mr Hopkins said.

"These figures are four to seven times more than de-amalgamation advocates predicted.

"Many Noosa residents have told me they would prefer improving local government services under the current system than mucking around with a new Noosa council.

"Instead of whacking Noosa residents with a rates hike, we should invest our time and money into setting up a kerbside clean-up service, boosting local infrastructure and proposing innovative new ideas like participatory budgeting proposed in Moreton Bay."

Katter's Australian Party Noosa candidate Bob Jarvis said he declared back in December that the council's commissioning of consultants was designed to "grossly inflate the real cost of the process".

Mr Jarvis said the Australian Party local government policy priorities were to scrap the state waste levy imposed on councils, return all previously owned water structure to local councils and facilitate de-amalgamation of councils where there is a majority community request.

Noosa Greens candidate Dr Jim McDonald wants the State Government to pick up all costs for the price of a local government de-amalgamation and for people to vote on the issue before a government-appointed boundaries commissioner carries out any review.

If Dr McDonald is elected next Saturday to parliament, he is promising to introduce a private member's bill to hold a referendum on a possible Sunshine Coast Council de-amalgamation for Noosa and surrounding areas with a shared community interest.

"The Greens will set the controversy over costs of the separation of Noosa from the Sunshine Coast Regional Council to rest," Dr McDonald said.

Dr McDonald said his suggestion would remove concerns about whether Noosa could afford the split if the LNP won government. The vote would be for people living in the suggested new Noosa Council area.

"If you put it on the Government to pay for it, then there's no issue for locals as far as rates are concerned," Dr McDonald said.

"We're already paying increased rates because of amalgamation and basically picking some of the debt issues of the other two councils.

"So if we can get away with not paying anymore, well and good.

"This is only fair since amalgamation was imposed on the community."

Dr McDonald said "communities where there has been some agitation previously to become part of Noosa" should be able to vote in the referendum.

Topics:  de-amalgamation, labor, queensland election 2012


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