Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson.
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson. Darryn Smith

Jamieson fires back over Newman claims on Coast needs

MAYOR Mark Jamieson is certain the communication lines to the Premier's office are open and that the direction of his council is unambiguous.

However, something is obviously not right between the two levels of government.

Campbell Newman marked his government's second year in office yesterday with an attack on Sunshine Coast Council for failing to make the region's priorities clear.

Mr Newman chose not to detail who else he has been listening to but it is clear other groups have his ear.

"The government has heard about infrastructure and community priorities from a number of different Sunshine Coast organisations such as councils, chambers of commerce and peak groups," a spokesman said in response to questions put by the Daily.

"Unfortunately, this advice is not consistent.

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"The State Government is hamstrung by Labor's $80 billion debt and can't afford to fund each and every project, so we're wanting these groups to work together to deliver a united list of priorities for the region."

The criticism has stunned Cr Jamieson, who said that from day one he had articulated a priority of getting the economy back on track.

He pointed to the months of hard work by council, the region's peak business and industry groups and the University of the Sunshine Coast to develop the region's first truly collaborative Economic Development Strategy.

"In a very clear message of council's priority for the region I personally briefed the Premier on the draft strategy and sought the State's Government's endorsement which shortly followed."

The document carries the State Government's logo.

"Since then figures show the Sunshine Coast has the fastest job growth in Queensland," Cr Jamieson said.

He set up Sunshine Coast First last year as a forum for MPs and councillors to discuss the region's best interest. However the group has met only twice because of the difficulty in securing the attendance of the region's five Liberal National Party ministers and the Speaker.

"I'm heartened that there have been two Sunshine Coast First meetings and council is keen to do more," Cr Jamieson said.

"Sunshine Coast Council has done everything it can to make it as easy as possible for the three levels of government in this region to work as one - it gives us a competitive advantage.

"Councillors always make it a priority to attend Sunshine Coast First meetings because it's so important for the region to speak with one voice. I actively encourage state members to participate in Sunshine Coast First meetings."

Earlier he told ABC Coast FM: "If the State Government members, of which there are six on the Sunshine Coast, all either ministers or Speaker of the House, aren't able to utilise that information and work with us on Sunshine Coast First and keep the Premier informed then I'm not sure what else we can do.''

Mr Newman did not respond to direct questions about the government's decision to retain - against council's wishes - the Halls Creek urban development investigation area south of Caloundra South.

Cr Jamieson said his council was yet to formally consider the government's decision on that matter.

"Council's position on Halls Creek has been well known and documented for some time," he said.

"All local members were briefed on the planning scheme at least twice during the plan-making process. Halls Creek has also been discussed at Sunshine Coast First meetings.

"I have always worked collaboratively and in a spirit of goodwill with state and federal members as it's in the region's best interests. The council has an exceptionally good relationship with the State Government and there's nothing in my conversation with the Premier that would suggest that has changed."

Something, however, has obviously changed between the two parties.

Member for Noosa and Minister assisting the Premier Glen Elmes endorsed Mr Newman's comments.

"As he has indicated, views coming to the government from the region do not always speak with one voice,'' Mr Elmes said.

"Accordingly, the Government must be sure that the Sunshine Coast Council has consulted widely with its community and then speaks on its behalf about the priorities for the region in accordance with its role.

"It is essential that all of the groups and organisations who make up the Sunshine Coast come together and define a clear set of priorities for the entire Sunshine Coast region.''


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