De-amalgamation talk heats up

Tuesday 12 April 2011

De-amalgamation talk heats up


The de-amalgamation of the Douglas Shire may be one step closer with newly-installed Liberal National Party (LNP) leader Campbell Newman saying he would consider the proposal should he be elected Queensland premier.

Mr Newman told Prime Radio in Cairns that this promise came with the condition that ratepayers and the State Government would not foot the bill.

"If the local residents working with that review can satisfy those conditions, I think it should happen. "That's as fair dinkum as I think I can be," he said.

Michael Gabour, owner and presenter of Port FM and outspoken de-amalgamation proponent said he was pleased with Mr Newman's comments.

"I was very excited to see that. We already had commitments from his Shadow Minister for Local Government that the LNP would in fact honour the commitments previously given.

"We have commitments that within 100 days of taking office a Boundaries Commissioner will be in Douglas reviewing the nuts and bolts issues that would be the steps towards de-amalgamation."

Mr Gabour said that the de-amalgamation process would cost money, but added the former Douglas Shire had significant cash and land assets which, if reinstalled, would help pay for the de-amalgamation process.

"Obviously it's going to cost money. . .it's preposterous to say it won't cost money, I mean that's ludicrous, it will cost money. It won't cost nearly as much money as it cost to amalgamate.

"There are discussions behind the scenes to get clarification on exactly what he means. What we do know is that the Douglas Shire was in a very healthy financial position when the amalgamation took place. We were one of the few Shires in the State with a budget surplus."

It has been indicated this process could cost between $4 million and $10 million.

Do you think Douglas will ever de-amalgamate?  Take part in The Newsport Poll (top left)

Mr Gabour said that while there is no plan in place to move seamlessly into de-amalgamation, there is sufficient time to formulate such a plan should an election be called.

"We have the time. If in fact an election is called early, which we like to believe will happen, and if the LNP gets in, we still have until March next year to put in place a plan to have new elections and elect a Council.

"In the interim we'd be happy to have a core administration facility in Douglas to act as a focal point for the steps leading toward the de-amalgamation. The Shire will function fine."

"The Friends of Douglas Shire would be happy to act as a steering group and would get proposals out to the community at large to get input into how to proceed. . .the Friends of Douglas Shire will be providing a blue-print for the community to discuss," Mr Gabour said.

Mr Gabour added that a new Council would reflect the values of the region, something that is not currently happening under the management of Cairns Regional Council.

"I think the majority of people will be able to elect a local government that reflects a majority view and does not promote divisiveness.

"It's quite impossible for an urban metropolitan local government situated 70 kilometres away, separated by rainforest and mountains, to effectively administer this area. More than the distance, the cultural differences are even more extreme," he said.

Do you think Douglas will ever de-amalgamate?  Take part in The Newsport Poll (top left)