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Minister firm: No split for Stanthorpe

STRONG FEELING: Return Our Shire Action Group's Leisha Stanton, Bob Johnson, Alan Stanton and Lionel lindsay-Smith with local member Lawrence Springborg. Photo Contributed
STRONG FEELING: Return Our Shire Action Group's Leisha Stanton, Bob Johnson, Alan Stanton and Lionel lindsay-Smith with local member Lawrence Springborg. Photo Contributed Contributed

MEMBERS of the Return Our Shire Action Group (ROSAG) had an opportunity to meet with local government minister David Crisafulli but walked out feeling unsatisfied.

Fifteen members of the group met with the minister at the Stanthorpe council chambers to press forward the case why Stanthorpe must de-amalgamate from the Southern Downs Regional Council.

ROSAG spokeswoman Mary Rofe said members of the group left the meeting disappointed with the minister's stance.

"The meeting was scheduled so the minister could hear from a range of people on the Granite Belt before considering their request to put a referendum back on the discussion table," she said.

"We were representing the many who signed the petition and offered views in support of a real chance at becoming a separate shire.

"The supporters of de-amalgamation left after the request to put a referendum back on the table was refused by minister Crisafulli.

"The minister was not prepared to concede democracy had suffered in the process offered to achieve de-amalgamation."

Minister Crisafulli said he appreciated the opportunity to meet with ROSAG members and explain his decision as well as outline a way forward for the region.

"I painstakingly considered the submission to give it every chance of success," Mr Crisafulli said.

"The reason the submission was not referred to the Boundaries Commissioner was purely on financial grounds."

Minister Crisafulli said while the submission was of a high standard, the cost projection was an underestimation and left out de-amalgamation expenses.

"Councils comparable to Stanthorpe had assessed these expenses to be about $3.6 million in year one," he said.

"This more realistic estimate would cost the average Stanthorpe ratepayer more than $600, on top of the ongoing increases quoted in the submission. I also believe the financial estimates were based on an optimistic expectation of Federal and State grants and subsidies."

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