Residents will decide fate
NOOSA people alone will have the deciding vote on whether they de-amalgamate from the Sunshine Coast council if Campbell Newman becomes the Premier of an LNP government after the next state election.
Mr Newman chose the office of Noosa MP Glen Elmes to put an end to all speculation that the LNP may default on a previous commitment to instigate a breakaway action 100 days after coming to power.
The former Brisbane Lord Mayor had just met with the Noosa Independence Alliance powerbrokers who were determined for Mr Newman to kill off any talk of a possible Sunshine Coast-wide vote on Noosa going its own way again in local government.
Mr Newman said as the Noosa area was prepared to wear all the costs involved with de-amalgamation – estimated by the NIA to be around $4 million – then only the people in the proposed breakaway local government area would get to vote.
Tellingly, Mr Newman said he was personally in favour of a new Noosa council and said he would be surprised if a local vote on de-amalgamation attracted less that 80% support.
Mr Newman said forcing Noosa to vote again, after a past community vote showed overwhelming support for staying as a stand-alone council, was consistent with the LNP’s past policy on this contentious issue.
The LNP leader’s intention was the same as John-Paul Langbroek, the Opposition leader, who Mr Newman deposed in March this year, and that is to set up a boundary review commission to look at the boundaries for a de-amalgamated Noosa.
“We’ll also be looking at the finances of the proposed de-amalgamation,” Mr Newman said.
“So the Noosa community will get a report on what the proposal will be, so they go in with their eyes open – we then have a vote.
“Local government must be set up to look after local communities. We have a process that we’ll be implementing which has to be throughout the state – it has to virtually work in other places.”
Mr Newman said Noosa’s case will differ slightly from other communities wanting to de-amalgamate in that it will not have to petition the boundary commission to start the process – the Noosa boundary review will be automatic.
“Personally, I’m exceptionally supportive of the (Noosa) de-amalgamation,” he said.
But he pointed out that the Noosa community had complained loudly about the forced amalgamation, or a “shotgun wedding”, to Caloundra and Maroochy councils.
“Surely we have to be consistent about this – people need to be given an opportunity if it is going to be pulled apart, that has to be a democratic process.”
The vote will be a simple majority and could be either postal or a turn out to the ballot boxes, with Mr Newman saying the final method would be decided at a later date.
“If it (the Noosa vote) came under 80% I’d be surprised, but I won’t make any rash promises, I just don’t believe it’s going to be a problem,” he said.
“I was the Lord Mayor of Brisbane for seven years and I’m passionate about local government. And local government is about local communities, it’s about community of interest.
“I’ve have always been very concerned about what happened up here on the Sunshine Coast.
“It’s a very special place. Certainly I was quite concerned at the time as someone sitting on the sidelines when I saw what (former Premier) Peter Beattie and (former Local Government Minister) Andrew Fraser were doing in relation to the local area with these and other amalgamations.”
Mr Newman said what had happened on the southern end of the Sunshine Coast with the State Government taking away the council’s planning role for the Caloundra South development, was relevant to Noosa’s desire to stand alone.
“I’m fair dinkum about looking after the whole Sunshine Coast, but that doesn’t mean that everybody’s got to be in a local government situation the way it is.
“Councils have lost a lot of authority – mayors and councillors have been stripped of that authority over the last few years by this Labor government.
“Local governments should be in charge of planning and development assessment.”