COMMUNITY ACTION: Noosa locals never lost the burning desire to get their council back.
COMMUNITY ACTION: Noosa locals never lost the burning desire to get their council back. Geoff Potter

Reasons why the split from the Coast was a real shoo-in

AS A reborn shire closes in on the anniversary of its historic turning point - the March 9, 2013 landslide de-amalgamation "yes" vote which set up the November 9 Noosa Council election - the Noosa News has tapped in to the spirit of those times again.

You only have to look at the always pro-active Peregian Beach Community Association's website listing for de-amalgamation to get an inkling of why there was a thumping 81.38% vote to leave the Sunshine Coast Regional Council.

Of the four former shires that voted to get their local government voice back, Noosa led the way in all respects on this debate - from mounting its case, to taking its Free Noosa message out to the community forums - and then, finally, to the massive majority.

Here are edited excerpts of how the PBCA presented its case:

Why we support the "Yes" vote for de-amalgamation

In the 1990s Peregian was divided, with two-thirds of the area in Noosa Shire and most of south Peregian Beach in the Maroochy Shire. South Peregian suffered from high rates, and a complete lack of transparency about council expenditure in the area.

We sought a boundary redistribution so that we could join Noosa. After we succeeded, Maroochy Council revealed that it was collecting $1.1 million in rates from south Peregian while we could only identify $50,000 in expenditure in the area.

Does that sound familiar to what is occurring today?

The Sunshine Coast Regional Council (SCRC) is collecting 21% of its rate revenue from the Noosa area and proposing to spend only 10% of its capital works (budget) in the area.

The former Noosa Shire and its staff were much more responsive to the needs of the area and, therefore, the level of service was higher.

At the same time the debt level and rates were lower.

Noosa Council will collect $42m in general rates compared to the $27m before amalgamation.

It will receive an extra $4m from Unitywater payments and, therefore, it will have a 70% increase in ratepayer funding compared with four years ago.

While the general community led the way in protecting Noosa's natural character, our local Noosa Council played a critical role in ensuring growth didn't make Noosa just another city by the sea.

Deliberate planning decisions resulted in low population density, low-rise buildings, traffic planning designed to avoid intersection lights, no parking meters, restricted public signage … etc.

The SCRC has made a decision to "normalise" us. In practice, that means changing many of the things that Noosa people have worked so hard for, and replacing them with a one-size-fits-all model

We aren't like Maroochydore or Caloundra yet, but it could be on the way unless we get our local council back.


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