In "Council amalgamation costs blow out another $100 million" in the Courier Mail of 29 Jan 09 Hannah Davies, reported:
"THE cost of Queensland's controversial local council amalgamations is spiralling, with ratepayers set to fork out a further $100 million to foot the bill.
"Despite State Government claims that merging councils would save money, many are struggling to offset the costs of amalgamation and are asking for extra funding.
"Council lobby group the Local Government Association of Queensland said amalgamation costs had been severely underestimated.
"(Acting director Greg Hoffman said,) "We are estimating the government will need to spend $100 million over the next 10 years to enable councils to implement the changes.
"As reported in The Courier-Mail this week, Moreton Bay Regional Council - formed from merging Redcliffe, Caboolture and Pine Rivers - will have to spend almost $1 million on new uniforms for staff."
This is on top of $3.5 million to equalise staff wages and $1.9 million to align computer systems.
On 30 Jan 09, Johanne Wright responded in a letter entitled "Merger cost predictable":
"As president of a residents' association which supported genuine local government reform, but was appalled at the seriously flawed and undemocratic, forced amalgamations, it comes as no surprise that the costs of this process were seriously underestimated by the Sate Government.
"It should come clean and spell out what savings will accrue and when we will see these. Our research shows that there will be negligible to no savings. Any that might occur will take five to 10 years to accumulate."
In the meantime, both Queensland taxpayers and local ratepayers will continue to pay for the anti-democratic amalgamations of 2007 rammed through by then Labor Premier Peter Beattie and then Local Government Minister Andrew Fraser (now Qld state Treasurer) made at the behest of the Property Council of Australia. This is on top of the ever-escalating increases in charges of water, electricity, transport, housing, etc. caused by the Queensland Government's policies of privatisation and enforced popoulation growth.
The Property Council demanded amalgamations because it regarded smaller councils, such as the now abolished Noosa and Douglas Shire Councils, which were more responsive to the wishes of local residents, as impediments to their plans to impose urban development and population growth.
However, the forced amalgamations were opposed by a massive grassroots opposition in all of the local government areas to be abolished. In every local government area in which residents were consulted, amalgamation was rejected overwhelmingly.
Of course, the Courier Mail is now silent on its own support for amalgamation which flew in the face of Queensland public opinion and the hard evidence. At one point, during the heigh ot the controversy, pro-John Howard Courier Mail even seemed to cynically welcome the prospect that then Federal Opposition leader Kevin Rudd would pay a political price at the 2007 elections for the conduct of his Queensland state Labor counterparts. This was in spite of the fact that Rudd, unlike the Courier Mail, had at least gone on the public record as being opposed to the council amalgamations.
If ever Queenslanders are ever able to fix up the shambles created by the Beattie and Bligh governments, it won't be any thanks to the Courier Mail.