Free at last: Noosa's landslide de-amalgamation vote

IN A stunning and historic moment its 103-year history Noosa on Saturday mustered all its power and passion to deliver the sweetest king hit to Labor's forced council amalgamation.

Free at last. After five years of unflagging Noosa resistance, democracy had delivered a Sunshine Coast Council de-amalgamation from the grassroots up. And not by some knife-edge margin but a thumping majority, which stood at 81.44%, with 84.73% of the vote counted. The other three communities, which went to the polls on Saturday for this landmark referendum on de-amalgamation, Douglas, Mareeba and Livingstone, by comparison were struggling to push past 60%.

Now no one south or north of the soon-to-be re-established council border at south Peregian can say this is not what Noosa desperately wanted - with a vengeance. For the overwhelming majority who voted "yes" , making their mark on the ballot paper was never about what they could or could not afford to pay in rates.

It was about the special lifestyle - the low key natural and built environment that had been meticulously put in place over many decades - that they could not afford to lose.

And many are quietly confident that a new Noosa Council will deliver smaller rate rises into the future than a bigger council - and better services.

And the landslide "yes" victory was about having local people they elect making crucial decisions about their future and not some drive-in, drive-out bureaucrats who haven't a clue about peak hour school pick-up traffic at Beckmans Rd.

This mother of all referendum votes was about being listened to - about getting Noosa's community voice back loud and clear.

Among the wild and joyful cheering from the crowd outside the old Noosa Council chambers in Pelican St around 6.30pm on Saturday when the result was an absolute "yes" to de-amalgamation, one voice could not be drowned out. One of the many hundreds of Free Noosa grassroots volunteers told the Noosa News, over the cheering, what this was all about in a nutshell.

"The Sunshine Coast Council wants to turn us into a city - take a look around - we're not a city, we're a community," he said.

And all this euphoria was the biggest black eye to former Premiers Anna Bligh and Peter Beattie and special kick up the pants for former Local Government Minister Andrew Fraser for taking away their right to self-determination.

"This is about righting a wrong" could have been the catch-phrase for the thousands of voters who turned out on Saturday to vote around the old Noosa Shire.

Around 27% of Noosa voters pre-polled and 8% have sent in postal votes.

They were itching to make a point - and a real difference to the way Noosa is shaped into the future.

A new Noosa Council will be elected and in office from January 1, 2014.

Topics:  noel playford noosa de-amalagamation

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