Carey slams Hooper report

Friday 8 February 2013

Carey slams Hooper report

FODS number cruncher David Carey has criticised a report produced by pro-amalgamation supporter, accountant Terry Hooper, as the crucial referendum looms just four weeks away.

Mr Carey dissected Mr Hooper's report and said many of the points made were "not supported by factual evidence."

In The Newsport article 'Former DSC was broke: Accountant" (Thursday 7 February 2013), Mr Hooper said amalgamation saved the Shire from the administrators.

“It got so bad that the Local Government Minister commenced the process of appointing an Administrator. It was amalgamation that stopped this occurring," he said.

It's a point Mr Carey dismisses. "...the Minister did not commence a process to appoint an administrator. The Minister informed the Council that if it did not improve its governance he would consider the appointment of an administrator.

"In fact up until the amalgamation announcement the Minister's office and the Local Government Department were actively involved in assisting the Council to work through its governance problems," he said.

Mr Carey also downplayed the impact of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis on the local government of the time, an event Mr Hooper described in his report as "a key factor for the finances of local government..."

"Again, this is Mr. Hooper's opinion only. Where is the evidence?" Mr Carey said. "Local Government, being a community service institution would have exactly the same service provision responsibilities regardless of any economic downturn generally in the economy."

Read Mr Carey's retort of Mr Hooper's report here

In his report, Mr Hooper blamed the Douglas Shire Council for rates increases

"The attempt by the former Council (DSC) to extract the burden of rate increases from businesses failed ratepayers generally and resulted in rate adjustments following the establishment of the new Regional Council.

"Since the formation of the new Regional Council there has been concern about the rate increases in the 2008/2009 financial year...the cash position of the former Council and its ability to fund operations and future capital works are the significant reasons for the increase."

But Mr Carey said the blame for the rise in rates falls squarely at the feet of Cairns Regional Council.

"What in fact did happen was that the Cairns Regional Council rather than take a sensitive approach to "standardising" the rates structure of the former Cairns City Council with that of the Douglas Shire, simply superimposed the Cairns rates structure on Douglas.

"This completely changed the ratios of the rates burden on Douglas ratepayers and saw the abolition of the tourism levy...and wholesale restructuring of the rates collected from different classes of property. i.e rural, residential, industrial, commercial etc.

"It was this action by CRC post amalgamation that caused the massive rates upheavals in the Douglas area."

Meanwhile, another prominent pro-amalgamation support, Ken Dobbs, said yesterday the former Douglas Shire Council was "stealing from Peter to pay Paul" by diverting funds from the replacement of infrastructure to shore up its bottom line.
Mr Dobbs of Douglas Residents and Ratepayers Association has undertaken his own financial analysis of the DSC using annual reports from the last five years of its operation.

Mr Dobbs' claims he discovered the DSC were in financial trouble in 2008 "but the books make it appear it was in surplus by reducing depreciation rates for fixed assets," he said. 

"In non-accounting terms the council was not saving enough money to replace worn out roads, bridges and other infrastructure, plant and equipment.

"The study found that the old DSC jacked up the rates in the last two years before amalgamation by 12.4% in 2006 and 9.9% in 2007 in an effort to stave of the financial disaster it was heading for. 
"In comparison the average rate rises for the first year under CRC (2009) were only around 7% not the 30% claimed by de amalgamation supporters."  

Mr Dobbs' findings are available at

We'll bring you details of last night's public meeting on the de-amalgamation issue shortly.