New community group 'here to stay'
PASSION ran hot as the Granite Belt Community Association held its first public meeting on Tuesday night.
A key concern raised was that the Granite Belt risked losing its identity, and that cost-cutting measures by government were tearing the fabric of the community apart.
With a view to vocalise concerns of the Granite Belt, the group hoped to improve the region despite challenges which arose from the council's amalgamation.
But ideas of de-amalgamation were quashed when the group's president Alan Colyer said they had extensively investigated the idea, but it was found to be too costly.
"It is out of the question, financially,” Mr Colyer said.
Mr Colyer said the group planned to meet with Southern Downs MP Lawrence Springborg, Maranoa MP David Littleproud and Southern Downs Regional Council to discuss their key concerns of tourism, hospital and health services, community facilities, the agriculture sector and council services.
While he reaffirmed the group was not formed specifically to oppose any level of government, Mr Colyer said the association was "not going away” and would stand firm on the interests of the Granite Belt.
The group's secretary Helen Gibson said while de-amalgamation wasn't on the cards, they would possibly propose splitting the Southern Downs council area into divisions, to ensure all localities were appropriately represented.
"That worked exceptionally well in Caboolture Shire... and Moreton Bay,” she said.
"I think that will be a better way.”
Councillor Vic Pennisi welcomed the group, saying localised voices were a crucial part of amalgamated local government districts.
"I think in amalgamated councils these types of groups are crucial to... make us aware of what the pulse-beat is,” Cr Pennisi said.