Comment by Free Noosa's Noel Playford
REFERENDUMS have proved to be a high hurdle over the years.
It's not just that people are afraid of change. It's because the campaign has become politicised.
The Sunshine Coast Regional Council is using its website and our money to run the NO campaign against a new Noosa council.
They know the costs of de-amalgamation won't show up in our rates, because we'll more than compensate for them by ending our massive subsidy of the rest of the Coast, a subsidy that costs local ratepayers at least $270 for each of us, every year.
We've tried to remain positive and have spent time explaining benefits of voting YES on March 9. Benefits like protecting our balanced, liveable communities and bringing back a local council that listens to local people and acts in their interests.
But what will happen if we are frozen into inaction by the spin from our regional council's scare campaign? What if we vote NO?
The first risk is financial. The Sunshine Coast Regional Council (SCRC) is living beyond its means. Its expenditure is greater than its income, and its spending is being propped up by increased borrowing and dipping into cash reserves inherited at amalgamation.
That's a big enough risk, but the SCRC is also playing at being a developer in Maroochydore, risking $200 million of ratepayers' money to create a new CBD.
It's already cost $275 for each ratepayer to buy the land, but another $150 million is required to complete the infrastructure. That's equivalent to a further $983 from every ratepayer, from Kin Kin to Beerburrum.
That's what I call a risk. A council with no real development experience risking so much of our money on non-core activities.
They should leave it to the development industry. It's no wonder the SCRC 10-year plan shows the spending they're planning for Noosa won't be enough to stop our assets from deteriorating, leaving a real problem for the future.
A NO vote will also mean the gradual loss of the valuable Noosa identity that will hurt the local economy and cost local jobs. In tourism terms, it will be consumed by the Sunshine Coast brand.
Many Noosa residents have already seen that the SCRC is unwilling to protect their lifestyle with the Council's decision to allow an escalation in helicopter training on the Noosa north shore.
With 11 Councillors from the south making decisions about Noosa's future, a NO vote will see more decisions made by the big end of the coast, against Noosa interests.
There is no doubt the Sunshine Coast is on the way to becoming the City of the Sunshine Coast. At a Sustainable Futures Forum, Mayor Jamieson talked about "our city building journey" and what's "crucial for us to be successful as a city".
That's clearly what the SCRC has in mind and our only chance of retaining our own identity is to vote YES to get a local council back.
If there's any risk at all in voting YES, it is insignificant compared to the huge implications of voting NO in the referendum on March 9.
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