Digital impression of the proposed new nature-based hinterland playground at Cooroy.
Digital impression of the proposed new nature-based hinterland playground at Cooroy.

Mayor hits back at hinterland funding swipe

THE first return fire of the election campaign from Mayor Tony Wellington has been aimed at rural candidate Karen Finzel of Future Noosa.

The mayor disputes her claim that "nearly half" of the shire's businesses are in the hinterland and questions her raising the issue of a return to divisional representation.

"In fact, of the 7434 businesses in the shire, 2440, or around a third, are based in the hinterland," Cr Wellington said.

"Karen also seeks to exploit old resentments by suggesting that the hinterland is being overlooked and doesn't get its fair share of funding.

"As I pointed out in my first Dinner with the Mayor speech in 2016, the council's per capita spend in the hinterland is greater than its per capita spend on the coast.

"In the hinterland, dwellings are more dispersed. It costs more for council to service rural and rural-residential areas than to service urban areas.

He said 65 per cent of the road network across the shire is in the hinterland, but the hinterland, including the towns, represents just 27 per cent of the shire's properties.

"The fact is that the coastal urban dwellers actually subsidise the hinterland residents. So playing the victim card to appeal to hinterland residents may be populist politics, but it's factually misleading," the mayor said.

"Karen also argues that the $6 million dollars going to the Cooroy nature-based adventure park should be spread across other projects."

He said 60 per cent of the costs of the playground are being funded through a state government grant that was provided specifically for this place-making project.

"If the project doesn't proceed, the money goes back to the state," he said

"The call to return to divisions is also a play to people who mistakenly feel they might be better represented under that system.

"Divisions may be okay for very large councils like the Sunshine Coast Council, but they inevitably result in parochial politics, where councillors work primarily for their own patch rather than the betterment of the whole shire."

"This frequently results in divisional councillors doing backroom deals, particularly at budget time," he said.

"At present, any resident can go to any councillor for assistance. With divisions, such choice is not an option.

"Having experienced both systems, I can put my hand an on my heart and say that a non-divisional system provides the best results for residents, because it ensures councillors focus on the whole shire, not just the area where they happen to live."

The mayor said candidates for Noosa Council should also be focusing on the whole shore.


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