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Queensland mayors defy dismissal threats to consult their communities

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie and his Local Government Minister Andrew Fraser have forgotten the meaning of the word 'democracy'. Mayors who consult with their own constituents over the question of the abolition of their local governments face instant dismissal. These provisions were added to the legislation, which forces many Queensland local councils to amalgamate with neighbouring councils, at the last minute when the legislation was rushed through in the early hours of Friday 10 August.

At least two councillors intend to defy these laws and proceed with these ballots nonetheless. These include Mayor Donna Stewart of Warroo shire and Mayor John Brent of Boonah Shire. Both Boonah and Warroo shires are to be abolished under the Queensland local government 'reforms'.

According to Brisbane's (pro-amalgamation) Courier Mail newspaper of 11 August:

A DEFIANT southwest Queensland council is poised to become the first sacked for organising a vote under tough new amalgamation laws.

Warroo Shire Council, which will merge with four other councils around Roma under the reforms, has indicated it will count votes already received from a survey at a meeting on Tuesday.

"It's a survey, but I'm willing to take the consequences regardless," Mayor Donna Stewart said.

"This is an attack on the democratic right of the people to have a say."

Housing minister Andrew Fraser has taken his extraordinary threats against the people of Queensland one step further by threatening to dismiss councillors who count votes for ballots that have already been sent out. The Courier Mail reported:

But the State Government warned councils not to proceed with any counting, even if survey ballots had been sent out. A dozen councils, including Tambo and Ilfracombe, are pressing ahead with the referendums.

Local Government Minister Andrew Fraser was not impressed, warning any counting or collating would attract instant dismissal.

"Obviously, they can't stop the mail arriving but they need to take no further action that proceeds with the poll in any way," Mr Fraser said.

Please send messages of support for Boonah Shire Mayor John Brent to mayor|AT|boonah qld gov au and for Warroo Shire Mayor Donna Stewart to donna_s1|AT|bigpond com and let Andrew Fraser and Peter Beattie know of your objections to their dicatatorial behaviour. Their e-mail addresses are respectively ThePremier|AT|premiers qld gov au and lgps|AT|ministerial qld gov au.

Update, 16 August 07

Queensland Local Government Minister Andrew Fraser has since backed away from his previous threat to dismiss Councils who counted votes about shire amalgamations. ABC news on 16 August reported that Warroo Shire residents had unanimously opposed the amalgamation,