Newman has say on de-amalgamation

DE-AMALGAMATION could be on the cards if the LNP’s Can-do Campbell Newman takes up the state government reigns – but the Southern Downs Regional Council would be expected to foot the bill.

State Opposition leader Campbell Newman was asked by the Daily News for his stance on the question of de-amalgamation, a policy our state member Lawrence Springborg has previously advocated.

Mr Newman said if voted in as Premier he would put the issue to the Queensland people and would de-amalgamate shires if there was “overwhelming support for it”.

“If an LNP Government is elected, we will establish a boundary review commission to allow local communities to have their say on the structure of their council,” he said.

“If a community overwhelmingly supports de-amalgamation, the LNP won’t stand in the way.”

But Mr Newman also outlined two provisos, firstly that the state government would not provide financial input for de-amalgamation and secondly that any de-amalgamation would not put an intolerable rate burden on residents.

Asked how local councils could be expected to meet the cost, Mr Newman said it was not something the state government could afford.

“We are not in a financial position to pay for de-amalgamation, with Labor racking up an $80 billion debt in two years,” he said.

“Residents need to go into it with their eyes open and because Labor has driven Queensland into the ground and put the budget in a parlous state, the state won’t be in a financial position to pay for any de-amalgamations.”

The Daily News last October highlighted the case of the former Delatite Shire Council in Victoria, which was formed from the local shires around Benalla and Mansfield in a program of forced amalgamations by the Victorian Government of Jeff Kennett.

The council de-amalgamated in 2002 after significant local campaigning and a change of State Government.

Those that fought for the de-amalgamation at the time claimed the two major areas were too fundamentally different and that there was a fear council offices in Mansfield would be closed and a belief Benalla “stole all the money from Mansfield”.

Despite a huge cost and rate increases of 12 and 16.5 percent, the council still decided to split, deciding de-amalgamation was more important than cost.

Can we unscramble eggs and de-amalgamate Warwick and Stanthorpe? Have your say by submitting a comment.

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