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Queensland local government
On 22 April 2007 Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, then Deputy Premier, rejected calls for ending Queensland's population growth, claiming that it "would have a very serious impact on the construction industry that a lot people rely on for jobs."#main-fn1">1.
A year later, on 25 April 2008 as reported#main-fn2">2 in the Sunshine coast daily, town planning lawyer, Andrew Davis, similarly objected to the plans of newly elected Sunshine Coast Mayor, Bob Abbot, to cap the coast's population growth at 400,000 from the current population of 300,000#main-fn3">3. Davis claimed that Abbot's initial plan to reduce annual population growth from 3.5% to 2% would result in the loss of 8,500 of the region's 20,000 construction jobs. He also claimed that there would be further job losses in the transport, property and business service sector, with flow-ons to other sectors of the economy like retail, tourism, manufacturing.
Indeed, in a manner uncharacteristic for property developers' advocates, even Andrew Davis implicitly acknowledged that such a transition would be necessary when he said, “Turning off the tap of growth, without first achieving success in creating sustainable business, will cause enormous pain for everyone, whether you work in growth industries or not.”
Given that the region does not have adequate water resources, transport infrastructure, electricity generation, or health and education services to meet the needs of the existing population, many argue that it is urgently necessary to end growth now rather than to increase the number of people who will become dependent, for their employment, upon further growth. At the very least, a plan to end the region's dependence upon growth must be adopted without further delay. Sunshine Coast residents should not hold their breath waiting for Davis and the Sunshine Coast developers to devise a plan for a sustainable economy for the region.
Putting back the date for the necessary transition from a growth-addicted economy to a stable steady state economy will only make the eventual adjustment more traumatic.
At least Bob Abbot's plans for a cap are a step in the right direction. As far as it goes, he can rightly claim a popular mandate for his stance, having won the election for Mayor against pro-developer candidate Joe Natoli, with over 70% of the vote#main-fn4">4.
Comments posted to the web-site of the Sunshine coast Daily News, in response to the story, also confirm the overwhelming popular support enjoyed by Abbot. (See #CommentsSupportingBobAbbott">Appendix 1 below).
Saturday's Sunshine Coast Daily in the story Coast told to grow up and diversify#main-fn5">5 of 26 April reported that Sunshine Coast business leaders supported Abbot and called for the diversification of the economy away from dependence upon tourism, retail and the property industry.
Sunshine Coast Business Council chair Paul Pettigrew said, "Reliance on the mainstays of tourism, retail and property development industries must be reduced. The growth of the knowledge, creative, research and innovation, manufacturing and other such skills-based industries will create a larger total economic base that is better positioned for the region’s social and economic future."
Sunshine Coast Environment Council manager Ian Christesen said the time was right to have a debate about growth#main-fn5b">5.
“The time is right, the people have spoken at the elections, so let’s get on with rational discussion,” he said.
“The rhetoric the state government has been going on about for some time is ‘we’re managing growth’. Everyone realises that’s not the case, growth is managing us.
“We have to diversify our economy. We can’t rely on the vagaries of construction and development to underpin our economy.
“We need to move on and develop something a bit smarter.”
However, as former State Labor MP, Cate Molloy, warned (see #DictatorialStateGovernmentPowers">Appendix 2) Sunshine Coast residents may see their expressed wishes to curb the demands of the developers frustrated. State Labor Government's supposedly independent assessment panel, has powers to over-rule planning decisions of the Sunshine Coast Council and other local governments.
Already in 2007, at the behest of the Property Council of Australia (PCA), the State Government forcibly amalgamated a number of local governments, against the wishes of the residents served by these councils#main-fn6">6. The Property Council viewed the abolished Noosa and Douglas Shire Councils and many other councils, as impediments to its agenda for unrestrained development.
However, the Property Council and the State Government's plans suffered a setback when anti-development candidates in a number of key local government areas including the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Cairns, and Redland City overcame the additional difficulties caused by the amalgamations and defeated candidates heavily financed by developers#main-fn7">7.
In response to this democratic resistance, the Queensland State Government, encouraged by pro-developer Murdoch Newsmedia, set up the independent assessment panel, of which Molloy warned.
Clearly, if Queensland is to be saved from overdevelopment and overpopulation, then anti-development councils, together with their grass roots supporters, will have to show at least as much determination as the developers and their government stooges.
#main-fn6" id="main-fn6">6. Cate Molloy : Forced council amalgamations planned by Property Council of Australia of 7 Sep 2007 #main-txt6">[back]
#main-fn7" id="main-fn7">7. The Australian laments outcome of Queensland local government elections of 29 March 2008 #main-txt7">[back]
#CommentsSupportingBobAbbott" id="CommentsSupportingBobAbbott">Appendix 1: Some comments in support of Mayor Abbot's population cap
Comments were posted in response to Sunshine Coast Daily article Curbing growth 'would cost jobs' of 25 April 2008.
"The coast cannot cope with the current growth. ..."
"Growth on the coast needs stemming. At present there are subdivisions without supporting services. The building quality is less than desired, but maximum price is called for by the developers. All in the name of greed."
"It is ignorant for anybody to suggest that we need "Growth" to sustain a economy, most problems in the world are caused by growth, sure there may be "some" job loss for a while, but this will naturally adjust after a while.
"Nothing is gained without pain.
"It's good to see somebody like Mr Abbot standing up to the development industry."
"There are so many examples across the coast of where we are playing 'catch-up' because growth has not been carefully monitored. I invite any Coast residents to try getting around the Sippy Downs / education precinct between 8am - 9am and again from 3pm - 5pm. I sat in traffic there yesterday for 35 minutes - to move only a couple of hundred metres. We're all waiting for the new Dixon Interchange to open and look forward to a reduction in congestion. I'm sure the residents of Maroochy North Shore are also looking forward to the Maroochy River Bridge project completion.
"What Mayor Abbot is suggesting is reasonable, and shows an interest in the long-term livability of the Coast region. I think his vision proves that we have elected the right man for the job - someone who looks at the big picture and doesn't play into the hands of developers and their dollars."
"We don't have a infrastructure now to cope with the people we have here, Look at the most important stuff like the poor state of hospitals,the lack of public transport, the traffic nightmare."
"I don't see why we have to concentrate so many people into one place changing the entire coast into a rat race, ..."
"Enough is enough.Overdevelopment only puts money into the pockets of large developers who are not domiciled on the coast. They are only here to make fast easy money at the ultimate expense of residents. ...
"We can't afford any further development on the Sunshine Coast that only puts money into the developers pockets and leaves the rest of us to pick up the bill. More strength to Bob Abbot and his plans. And an end to the Natoli 'sleep with the enemy' policy.
"From the story and the comments all I can say is, Good for you BOB!"
"The increase is being driven by the federal government via immigration, due to the failure of various other ridiculous schemes to maintain the human plague i.e 'baby bonus'.
"Since 2003, our immigration rate has doubled. This is short term economics; selling state forest, water supply, and sacrificing entire species for a quick-buck. This is a threat to our future far worse than terrorism."
"Perhaps Mayor Abbott's proposed growth rate will help alleviate the difficulties house buyers are having getting their homes completed due to a shortage of tradespeople. (see Saturday's Daily)."
#DictatorialStateGovernmentPowers" id="DictatorialStateGovernmentPowers">Appendix 2: Cate Molloy warns of threat of dictatorial use of State Government's planning powers.
This comment by Cate Molloy, former Labor state member of Parliament who was expelled from the Labor Party for opposing the Traveston Dam was also posted in response to the abovementioned Sunshine Coast Daily article Curbing growth 'would cost jobs' of 25 April 2008.
The current Minister for Infrastructure and Planning Paul Lucas has stated a five member independent assessment panel would be given the first right of refusal on all Noosa development applications so that means they also have first right of approval, of those applications not just the ones in conflict with the planning scheme.
We now have this Famous Five who are about to duplicate the work not only done in council but also that which is referred to the State government for review- a call in- how can any council operate effectively if the responsibility to plan and approve is removed from their hands.
OK so Noosa is only one part of the cake but this kind of eroding of democracy smacks of arrogance.
Noosa got much of its planning done well with a great deal of community input, that is now being removed not only from the mayor but also all the councillors.
We can address this by pressuring the mayor and those councillors who enjoy close relationships with both federal and state government ministers to reinstate our democratic rights.
There is a specific tactic of turning the heat up on our elected representatives to stand up for us on this important issue and not simply roll over, making a few noises about how they hope the process is thorough enough and the state government doesn't select poorly.
I would like to see those councillors who have used state and federal politicians to advance their campaigns to now actually do something with that endorsement.
Vivien Griffin and Glen Elmes have openly declared they want to work together that's great so now Viv and Glen you have to take these issues to state parliament and report back to us the people what you have both achieved.
Debbie Blumel has represented as a labor candidate at least 4 times with endorsements from Wayne Swan and a tinny full of state pollies so now come on Debbie, you can get down to Brisbane get Wayne Swan to go with you, to see Minister Lucas.
You then can report back to us on what you have achieved to get Minister Lucas to rescind this ridiculous Famous Five duplication and removal of our democracy.
Russell Green has mates in State Government and has even turned up at a State Labor retreat. This level of friendship surely must allow you Russell to put forward our case.
Of course we have other councillors who also have close ties in government but lets start with this small but highly and well connected group to really start using their connections as they have so implied they would do.
The editorial writers of newspapers from Rupert Murdoch's News Limited, including the Courier Mail and The Australian, are not shy in showing their contempt for public opinion whenever it runs counter to the powerful vested interests they represent. Examples from recent years include their support for:
- The privatisation of Telstra
- The privatisation of NSW's electricity generation
- 'Work Choices'
- The Iraq war
- The Mary River Dam#main-fn1">1
- Queensland forced local government amalgamations
Naturally, in 2007, with local governments such as the Douglas Shire Council and the Noosa Shire Council receptive to the wishes of their constituents to stand up to developers, the News Limited editorial writers gave their full support to the Queensland government's forced local government amalgamations inspired by the Property Council of Australia#main-fn2">2.
However, the hopes The Australian held out for in these amalgamations came unstuck when, on Saturday 15 March, anti-development candidates standing in the amalgamated shires were able to overcome the additional difficulties posed by their having to campaign in larger shires and were able to defeat candidates backed by developers. These included the Cairns City Council into which the Douglas Shire had been forcibly amalgamated and the Greater Sunshine Coast Council into which the Noosa shire had been forcibly amalgamated. In at least two other large local government regions, the Gold Coast City Council and Redland City Council, anti-development tickets won control in spite of extravagant developer-funded advertising campaigns against them.
In response, on 18 March an editorial entitled "Queensland faces a tougher job on regional development"#main-fn3">3 was published. It commenced:
Queensland's local government elections demonstrate the difficulty that beset public administrators trying to manage the competing demands of population growth.
The 'difficulty' being that electors in those council areas were not prepared to put up with the further degradations to their quality of life necessitated by continuous population growth. As has become the established practice with the Murdoch Press, the question as to whether population growth is an issue over which affected communities should have any say, is not even posed, rather population growth is treated implicitly as a given over which no power in Heaven or on Earth can have any control:
... the Queensland (state government) must grapple with an influx of thousands of new residents each week and deliver, health, education and other public services.
In fact, the choice is being made, but instead of it being made by the affected communities, it is being made by politicians, like Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, who serve the same vested interests as does the Murdoch media. They include principally the aforementioned Property Council of Australia, whose members gain from population growth, through land speculation and property development, at the expense of the rest of the community, the environment and future generations.
To be sure, there is a moral ambivalence to this issue as many who oppose today's population growth were part of yesterday's additions to the population to those areas and the editorial writer seeks to gain from this the high moral ground:
... much of the growth comprises city refugees making a sea change to what they consider their own piece of paradise. From Cairns to Coolangatta, it was easy to detect a determined anti-development flavour to much of the voting on the weekend's election.
A 'flavour' that the editorial writer makes clear he/she wishes to be ignored by the state and federal governments. It is interesting that The Australian is silent on what the sea changers were seeking 'refuge' from, namely the over-crowding of Australia's capital cities, which has been greatly encouraged by the Murdoch media through its past promotion of population growth.
Of the triumph of Val Schier over the long-serving pro-developer Cairns Mayor Kevin Byrne, the editorialist opined, this "will test the state Government's willingness to use independent panels to make decisions on development applications". Supposedly 'independent' panels are made up of people who, unlike popularly elected councillors, are not accountable to the residents who will be affected by their decisions. In this way it is hoped that the opposition to over-development can be swept aside.
The editorial acknowledges that the "new batch of local leaders can legitimately argue that they have a mandate to resist change." It, nevertheless, concludes:
Amalgamation has happened, but given the weekend results, the reform push is clearly unfinished business.
Can we come to any other conclusion from this editorial except that the 'reform push' is expected to be 'finished' by the use of dictatorial state government powers to over-ride the democratic wishes of Queensland communities?
#main-fn1" id="main-fn1">1. See The Australian newspaper backs environmental vandalism in the Mary Valley of 5 Jan 08.
#main-fn2" id="main-fn2">2. See story Cate Molloy : Forced council amalgamations planned by Property Council of Australia of 7 Sep 07
#main-fn3" id="main-fn3">3. Unable to obtain URL for this editorial.
The following article was printed in the free community newspaper Gympie Life on 20 March 2008. The Integrity Gympie Team were unsuccessful in either the Mayoral elections or the Councillor elections#main_fn1">1.
This is no joke!
The multinational daily went into a late frenzy of fear and deception on Friday and Saturday to avert voters from thinking clearly and constructively on polling day (Saturday 15 March).
Friday's election eve cover story sought to discredit Ron Owen as having purposefully connected his campaign web-site to community group web-sites and identities so as to improperly claim their support for his campaign.
The facts prove the story to be a vicious beat-up. The most obvious and shocking of these facts is the fraudulently constructed front-page picture used to launch the attack.
This cover image (reprinted to the right) was a photographed web page containing a google search. The typed search terms shown in the picture, and stated in the article, are 'little haven gympie'. The top 'hit', supposedly returned from this search, is the 'Ron Owen for Mayor' website.
From this image is spun the story that Ron Owen coded his web site to appear whenever a range of Gympie community groups are sought on the web.
However a close look at the image shows that the actual search made to deliver the search result was not 'little haven gympie' but 'little haven ron'. This is proven beyond all doubt by the words that appear embedded on the page title bar, the search tittle bar, the search results bar, and the bolded type in the search result (all circled in red on the picture).
The words in bold in these four circled locations are generated by google coding and are the exact search terms used to deliver the page results. They are locked within the page structure. They cannot be changed without making a new search.
However the typed search field can be changed whilst the existing search results remain in place. Which is exactly what the multinational muck-rakers did. The search field term 'ron' has been deleted after the search was complete and replaced with 'gympie'. The altered page has then been photographed and printed as 'evidence' to shock and convince readers. The evidence is fraud. The whole story is error, exaggeration and defamatory vapour-ware.
Deft Dealings in Dirt and Denigration
According to Alan Caulfield, the developer of the web-page in question, the actual issue is nothing more than a simple and explainable misunderstanding. Mr Caulfield said that the paper could have easily checked and included the facts behind the published assertions prior to printing them. He says he did get an enquiry from the Times journalist, but it was looking for dirt not daylight. None of what he correctly explained to the journalist was included in the printed story.
"After reading Friday's printed article", says Mr. Caulfield, "I immediately sent them an outline of the technical facts that prove their assertions to be wrong. I requested they print this letter on the next day as some fair response to this concocted damage. It wasn't printed".
Checking both sides of the story before printing accusations, and giving timely right of reply after making accusations, are both basic journalistic standards. Neither was done. Both omissions were purposeful.
Mr Caulfield says we now have a much bigger issue, in fact a huge one: how and why has this paper purposefully manipulated a non-event to deliver personal damage, rather than acting to fairly and responsibly inform the public interest?
The Saturday edition of the daily then let fly with both barrels (the editor and the general manager) in an explicit and vitriolic attack upon the standards of the Gympie Life and all that is associated with it.
Considering the photo fraud, and its clear intent to derail the fair composure of the election, this is gross and despicable hypocrisy. Worse, it follows a criminal breach of the Electoral Act.
So then, to respond to Saturday's huff and puff editorial, who really is the gutter press?
Usually, and repeatedly, the Times cons its readers by what it doesn't print. It accuses and insinuates without giving right of reply. It beats the drum of developers and their tame politicians whilst avoiding printing any of the facts and the injury that exist on the other side of the story.
This works because it is deft. People naturally have trouble noticing what isn't visible. It works because it is relentless, drumming its skewed messages of favor and attack into our brains like clockwork. People may pick up on some anomalies, but the sheer torrent of it seeps in regardless. The only certain cure is don't read it.
To actually construct and commit a fraud as material and obvious as Friday's front page is remarkable. Quite obviously the stakes within Saturday's election were high enough for that paper, and whomever it is that really runs it, to risk this very extreme action.
The Life prints the facts and, as much as it can, the full facts. These can be confronting, and can sometimes be confounding given they appear nowhere else. Nonetheless they are the facts. If they weren't the Life would be sued. The paper does often opinionate upon those facts. However, given the facts, everyone can make and share their own opinion.
What the Life does not do is manipulate public opinion by censorship and distortion of fact. Neither does it fabricate untruths. It acts to shine light on things that need to be visible. Sometimes these can be shocking, even frightening. But do we want to live in the dark?
Gympie Life thinks not. We will continue to print the truth, as we know it, and all of it, for those who do not want to live in the dark.
Greg Wood, 19 March 2008
#main_fn1" id="main_fn1">1. Neither Ron Owen nor any of the eight Integrity Gympie councillor candidates won office. Undoubtedly, dirty tricks at the hands of the Gympie Times played their part in this outcome. This would have been compounded by former Mayor Mick Vernados' peculiar choice of using the undemocratic first-past-the-post system for both Mayoral and Councillor elections. Mick Vernados also failed to win office. For the Councillor elections, the 8 divisions were abolished and single combined electorate, in which 42 candidates contested all the positions, was created. This turned the councilor elections, in particular, more into a lottery than in an exercise in popular will, with 5 of the 8 the successful candidates not achieving the 4% of the vote required to get their deposits back from the Queensland Electoral Commission. Their votes ranged from 3.41% up to 5.94%.
Media Release: Cate Molloy calls on all Sunshine Coast Super Council Candidates to boycott OSCAR
24th February 2008
Ms Cate Molloy, Division 9 Candidate for the Sunshine Coast Super Council (and former Member for Noosa) today called on all Council and Mayoral candidates to boycott the group called OSCAR (Organisation of Sunshine Coast Associations of Residents).
OSCAR claims to represent the interests of the residents of the Sunshine Coast and is interviewing candidates with a view to promoting those it favours.
"However, Oscar so far refuses to be transparent by identifying its member organisations," Cate Molloy said.
"This is extremely worrying. Any group can purport to be representing the community but actually be a front for any sort of vested interests," she said.
"If OSCAR refuses to be transparent and accountable to the community, just as all candidates are expected to be, then it must be boycotted by all candidates," said Ms Molloy.
"OSCAR must also answer allegations that it actually approached certain candidates to run before the election writs were issued," she said.
"If this is the case, this group can hardly pretend not to be biased," Cate Molloy said.
"True democracy has no place for shady interest groups which refuse too identity just who their members are, and who they represent, " said Cate Molloy.
"For any candidate to allow him/herself to be interviewed by this group is to reward this questionable group with credibility,' said Cate.
"This should not be allowed," she said.
Enquiries: Cate Molloy
Peregian Beach, Queensland
Media release by Tristan Peach, Greens Candidate for Hamilton Ward
22 February 2008
Labor and Liberal plans to bulldoze a beautiful stand of mature hoop pines and gums at the eastern end of Kalinga Park are unacceptable and unnecessary, says Green Candidate for Hamilton Ward, Tristan Peach.
The trees are a stunning feature of the area, provide shade for park users, habitat for wildlife and are an excellent carbon sink for North Brisbane. The trees are in the section of park next to the intersection of Sandgate Road and the East-West Arterial.
Mr Peach has previously organised a petition to save the park and helped write a submission on the Airport Link impact statement, both of which were ignored by Council and the State.
“These trees are part of the area’s heritage and are highly valued by the community. I am the only candidate who is working to save them, while the other two candidates support their destruction” said Mr Peach.
“I am promoting a solution for North Brisbane that will address transport issues as well as preserve our valuable natural environment,” said Mr Peach.
The Greens’ transport plan for North Brisbane includes light rail along Lutwyche/Gympie Road, improved cross-city bus services and better cycling and walking options. It was released in September 2007.
“People in Hamilton Ward have a clear choice: they can vote Green for a cost-effective transport solution that won’t destroy the park, or they can vote Liberal/Labor for a transport project that will destroy the park and increase congestion on the East-West Arterial, Stafford Road, Gympie Road, Newmarket Road and various local streets,” said Mr Peach.
Kalinga Park is not the only natural area that will suffer – trees and green space along Kedron Brook (behind Kedron State High School) will also be bulldozed to make way for Airport Link.
Townsville City Council Elections: Presenting ‘Community Voices’
Media Release, Tuesday 29 January 08
Today Greens Mayoral candidate, Jenny Stirling unveils her team ‘Community Voices’ at the Palmetum at 12.50pm Tuesday 29th January in a bid to win office in the local government elections in Townsville.
"This is an historic day for Townsville. For the first time, a group composed of Independents and Greens have come together to form a team to contest the Council elections. We are striving to grow a safer, more inclusive and sustainable city" Jenny Stirling said.
The team is comprised of:
|Jenny Stirling||Social Justice Worker, Tutor JCU, NQ Greens Spokesperson, PhD Student JCU|
|Gail Hamilton||Environmental Manager; Breastfeeding Community educator|
|Peter Hanley||Engineer, Teacher, Tutor (JCU), QLD President Amnesty; community activist|
|Sam Reuben||Manager Indigenous Community Development organisation; Football Coach|
|Lindy Collins||Teacher, Artist, Community Spokesperson (BURP)|
|Dave Robinson||President Wulguru Soccer Club; Human Service Worker|
|Garth Brimelow||Disability and Aged Care Advocate|
|Peter Newey||Electrician and Small Business owner|
|John Waszkiewicz||Sports coach, PE teacher and Small Business Operator|
|Dr. Dianne Rogers||Community Educator & Professional Supervisor, Researcher, Tutor & Teacher JCU & TAFE|
|Nigel Sim||Electrical engineer, PhD Student JCU|
"We are standing in this election because we think that bad things happen when good people stand by and do nothing. So we are very hopeful that the good people of Townsville will take this opportunity to make the changes needed in Council to secure a better future for themselves and their children" said Ms Stirling.
Contact: Jenny Stirling 04 170 123 11 or 47290226
The launch of the bid of group Integrity Gympie to win control of the Gympie Council chamber is to be held at the Gympie Bowls Club at 2.00PM on Saturday 2 February 2008. Integrity Gympie was formed by independent community activists together with three currently serving councillors who were concerned that the current Gympie Regional Council led by Mayor Mick Vernados favours the interests of developers at the expense of their own constituents.
Integrity Gympie is committed to making the Gympie Regional Council more open and accountable and to consult properly with local communities before arriving at decisions which will impact upon their lives.
Integrity Gympie will actively oppose:
- The Traveston Dam (see www.savethemaryriver.com)
- The threatened dissection of Gympie with the Bruce Highway by-pass
- The Norman Point Marina in Tin Can Bay
- Nuclear power stations anywhere in the region
Integrity Gympie will actively pursue
- Fair contributions from developers so that existing residents don't have to pay extra rates to maintain basic services like:
road repairs drainage waste management parking community halls etc, etc sewerage upgrades strategic planning
- Solutions to problems of traffic flow and parking along Mary Street
- Rainbow Beach Centre block development
- A more effective management of feral pests
What you can do
If you live in the area and wish to help the people of Gympie get the council they deserve on Saturday 15 March, then contact the Gympie Integrity Group through their contact page Phone numbers of the candidates are also listed on that page.
If you live outside the Gympie Regional Council Area, you find candidates standing in your area who stand for similar policies. If not, there may still be time left for you and likeminded people to stand for council. The information on how to do so can be found on the Electoral Commission of Queensland Web site (www.ecq.qld.gov.au). The deposit for candidates is: $150.
Alternatively, if you live outside the Gympie region and wish, in any way, to help in bring about a council which would set an example for other councils to follow that help would be greatly welcomed.
Integrity Gympie Candidates
|Ron Owen "The Watchdog", candidate for Mayor personal page#fn-article-1">1|
|Wayne Sachs personal page||Shane Jacumsen personal page|
|Jeff Lambert personal page||Karen Berry personal page|
|Allan Dray personal page||Greg Wood personal page|
|Terry Clark personal page||Bennett Suthers personal page|
#fn-article-1">1. Ron Owen's personal page includes a mix of quotes. These are from a number of generally admired historical figures including Edward R. Murrow, known for his stance against the McCarthyite witchhunters, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain, Thomas Jefferson and Martin Niemoller. However, there are also quotes from a few which the editors of the site would consider unsavoury. These include Ronald Reagan, Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman. Naomi Klein's towering work of 2007 "The Shock Doctrine - the Rise of Disaster Capitalism" (see also review on WebDiary) demolishes a prevalent view of Milton Friedman, presumably shared by Ron Owen, that he was an idealist determined to pursue, through peaceful democratic means, for the benefit of all humanity, his goal of achieving a global free market unfettered by Government interference. Instead, he and his followers from the Chicago School of Economics, since the early 1970's collaborated with military dictatorships who murdered, tortured and imprisoned those who opposed Friedman's free market agenda. In all countries, the result was the impoverishment of the majority, destruction of much productive capacity, whilst a privileged few together with foreign corporations were enriched. Countries which were ravaged by Friedman's polices include Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Iraq. One of the last acts in Friedman's career was to help #comment-201045">exploit the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina in order to force the privatisation of Schools and public housing in New Orleans in 2005. The fact that Ron Owen has a mistaken high regard for people such as Friedman should not detract from the fact that he is, as an elected councillor, a hardworking principled servant of the people of Gympie and is, by far, the best available candidate for Mayor.
Australians, finally able to rejoice at the demise of the hated Howard government, can count themselves lucky that the Queensland Labor Government's undemocratic local government amalgamations program enacted at the behest of the Property Council of Australia did not fatally undermine Federal Labor's election campaign in Queensland as had been feared earlier earlier by Margo Kingston amongst others.
In the early stages federal Labor Leader Kevin Rudd did publicly oppose the forced amalgamations and correctly supported Prime Minister John Howard's Federal legislation#fn1">1 to over-ride the now infamous Queensland Government's legislation under which councils which attempted to consult their communities about the amalgamations through ballots could have been dismissed and under which any councillor who even voted in favour of any motions enabling such ballots could have been fined.
In spite of Rudd's support public distancing of himself from the Queensland Government the "Friends of Noosa", opposed to the forcible amalagamation of the Noosa Shire Council into the Greater Sunshine Coast council, launched a "Dump Labor" campaign in early September 2007 which featured demonstrations in which effigies of Rudd, as well as Beattie, were put in a bin. A large hoarding on a major road on the northern approach to Brisbane also featured the "Dump Labor" slogan.
Had they succeeded and returned a Howard Government this could have paradoxically, been counterproductive to their stated goals. State Labor governments, including the Queensland Beattie Labor Government have been notorious for their undermining the electoral prospects of Federal Labor in order to serve their own cynical survival strategies#fn2">2. This is because the state parliament election dates have tended to occur near the middle of the three year Federal parliamentary election cycle, when the Howard Government had felt most immune from popular opposition. At these moments, when the Howard had chosen to inflict his nastiest policies upon the Australian public, state Labour governments have been able to exploit the resultant public backlashes in order to be able to cling to office themselves. Thus, former Victorian Premier Steve Bracks was re-elected in 2006 in spite of breaking a 2002 election promise to build a freeway, instead deciding to have a privately operated tollway built. The unpopular New South Wales state Labor Government of Morris Iemma was re-elected in March 2007 largely as a result of a backlash against Howard Government's "Work Choices", even though the Government in which he was a minister under the leadership of former Premier Bob Carr helped bring about "Work Choices" by undermining Mark Latham's election chances in 2004.
Given all of this there would have been little reason to suppose that either Premier Peter Beattie or his successor Anna Bligh would have been concerned in the least by the "Dump Labor" campaign.
As the election date drew closer other leaders of the anti-amalgamation movement appealed to Kevin Rudd for his public support. Had he done so, there would have been every reason to expect that the Queensland Government would have have been forced to abandon the amalgamations. However, he did not, even ignoring appeals for him to do so contained in full paid advertisements from the "Local Democracy" group (one partially in Chinese in which Rudd is fluent) published in the Courier Mail prior to the elections. Predictably, at least two large advertisements which called on Queenslanders to vote against Federal Labor were published in the Courier Mail in the last week before the election.
However, Rudd's gamble appears not to have backfired against Federal Labor and the appeals of the anti-amalagamation movement to vote against Labor went largely unheeded by Queenslanders, most fortunately for both Queensland and the rest of Australia. There was a 8.31% swing against the coalition in Queensland (as of 3.45pm AEDST) giving Labor 51.22% of the vote on a two-party preferred basis.
Whatever the reason for the high vote for Federal Labor may be, Queenslanders, opposed to the Howard Government, who may have objected to the anti-Labor campaign, would be ill-advised to turn their backs on their rural cousins. If the undemocratic amalgamations are not stopped it will eventually harm the interests of ordinary Queenslanders to the benefit of land speculators, property developers#fn3">3 and other powerful vested interests, who at the moment have at least the Queensland Government in their collective pocket, if not the now defunct Federal Liberal Government.
It is important that people vote in the areas living in council areas affected by the amalgamations use Australian Electoral Commissions plebiscites, scheduled to begin on 26 November with the mail-out of postal ballots, to make their opposition to amalgamations emphatically clear.
Furthermore, if the democracy is to have any real content in this state the Queensland Government must be made to accept the outcomes of these plebiscites and, if necessary reverse the amalagamations now underway.
#fn1" id="fn1">1. Howard's support for democracy in Queensland stands in stark contrast to his own record in Government and to his own attitude to forced amalagamations in New South Wales and Victoria. See, for example, Media releases by the Indepenendent NSW Federal MP Peter Andren (since deceased) Howard's paper thin hypocrisy on amalgamations and my article Dictatorial Conduct published in Online Opinion on 21 Sep 07.
#fn2" id="fn2">2. This was revealed in the Latham Diaries, with examples of how the Victorian, New South Wales and Tasmanian state Labor governments had acted to harm his own election prospects. Sadly, Mark Latham has, himself, more recently emulated this behaviour which he had so rightly exposed in his own diaries, by turning on Federal Labor in two articles published in the Australian Financial Review (see article Mark Latham's Political Gift to John Howard dated on 19 Nov 2007 on Margo Kingston's web diary).
#fn3" id="fn3">3. See Cate Molloy : Forced council amalgamations planned by Property Council of Australia, 7 Sep 2007
Peter Beattie bent on destruction of Rudd's chances Margo Kingston, 18 Aug 2007
Online Opinion discussion forum: Don't let Peter Beattie save John Howard's political hide 8 Aug 2007
Dictatorial conduct by James Sinnamon, 21 Aug 2007
Queensland's burning - local government amalgamations Beattie-style by Scott Prasser, 27 Sep 2007
Queensland Greens Media Release - 13 September 2007
Australian Greens lead Senate candidate for Queensland Larissa Waters will today meet Douglas Shire Council Mayor Mike Berwick to discuss how the Greens can help to overturn the decision to amalgamate local Councils.
"The Greens strongly oppose the forced amalgamations of Queensland Councils and the hubris of Peter Beattie in gagging local Councils from conducting polls of their residents on amalgamations," Ms Waters said.
"Political pressure from determined Queenslanders forced Peter Beattie to back down on prohibiting polls, and soon the Australian Electoral Commission will be empowered to conduct polls on the amalgamations, on a date to be determined.
"I call on Premier Anna Bligh to listen to the results of all polls held on amalgamations, and to reverse the decision to amalgamate if the majority of the area?s residents do not want it.
"This is democracy at its most basic level and will be a real test of the style of leadership we can expect from Anna Bligh.
"Queenslanders were outraged by the gradual erosion of their participation rights under Peter Beattie ? from restrictions on accessing information under FOI, to special legislation to fast track projects without community consultation, to the final straw of not having a say on amalgamations.
"It's time for people to regain confidence in our system of government by knowing that their rights to speak out are protected, and that their voice will be heard. Voters don?t elect people to silence and ignore them, but to represent them," concluded Ms Waters.
Like Noosa Mayor Bob Abbott, Douglas Shire Mayor Mike Berwick has strongly opposed the opposed the amalgamation of Douglas Shire with Cairns City Council, which does not share Douglas Shire?s strong environmental protections.
Queensland Parliament passed legislation on 9 August 2007 to adopt the amalgamations recommended by the Local Government Reform Commission. Legislative amendments in Queensland Parliament would be required to overturn the Council amalgamations.
Premier Bligh has Labor's numbers in the Queensland Parliament to pass any such amendment and could easily do so before the new boundaries come into effect after the 15 March 2008 local government elections.
Thursday 16 August 2007
The Coalition Government has exposed its hypocrisy on council amalgamations with its current attack on the Queensland Government according to Independent Member for Calare, Peter Andren.
"When I took a delegation of local mayors to Canberra several years ago to see then Local Government Minister Wilson Tuckey, he was enthusiastic about the need for mergers of councils," Mr Andren said.
"Evans, Oberon and Bathurst Councils were then facing amalgamation and he voiced strong support for amalgamations in the interests of better council management.
"Both Liberal and Labor Governments have never backed away from such policy.
"The Prime Minister talks of giving people a say in the process. How come the limited public input into the recent federal electorate boundary changes was largely ignored, especially from people strongly opposed to the ridiculous boundaries for the new Calare?
"There are no referendums for state or federal boundary changes, why the concern over local government boundaries determined by the same commission process?
"This is pure unadulterated election year populism from a government that is philosophically at one with any state labor Government in wanting to wind down local government to a more politically controllable entity.
"I personally oppose council amalgamations unless there are overwhelming financial reasons that will benefit ratepayers. But the major parties are as one in their desire to reduce local people power.
"Wilson Tuckey proved that when he was federal Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government," Mr Andren said.
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'.
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,
Those who have read "The Latham Diaries" will have found startling confirmation of the fact the State Labor Premiers are cynical enough to deliberately damage the electoral prospects of their Federal counterparts in order to better ensure their own survival at the state level.Adapted from an article cross-posted to Online Opinion. Also, see article on webdiary "Peter Beattie bent on destruction of Rudd's chances" by Margo Kingston.
Those who have read "The Latham Diaries" will have found startling confirmation of the fact the State Labor Premiers are cynical enough to deliberately damage the electoral prospects of their Federal counterparts in order to better ensure their own survival at the state level. Former NSW Premier Bob Carr expressed it thus in his own diaries on 6 November 2001, quoted on pages 305-306 of "The Latham Diaries"(2005):
Published polls and the Party's polling starting to show Federal Labor edging up. Can't believe it. ... (Michael Egan, NSW State Treasurer said,) 'We'll be the ones weeping if Labor wins.' Yes - the secret agenda: State Labor wants to run against a rotting hated Coalition Government in Canberra. A Labor Government there only makes a third (State) term harder.
Mark Latham commented: "People used to get expelled from the Labor Party for this sort of treachery. Yet when it appeared in Marilyn Dodkin's book on Carr last year, no-one batted an eye-lid. Has it become part of the system? Everyone now expects Carr Labor to selfishly look after itself, cheering for a Howard victory, ..."
And certainly Bob Carr, together with his Victorian and Tasmanian counterparts did just that, as Latham abundantly illustrated, and we have them largely to thank for Howard's victory in 2004, together with "Work Choices" and all of his other policy abominations.
Which brings us to the forced council amalgamations in Queensland. There are no sound reasons derived from Labor principles to justify Beattie's current plans to abolish so many local governments which are in tune with the needs of their constituents. Indeed, it was a former Queensland Hanlon Labor Government which gave local government the powers they have enjoyed up until now (see "When amalgamations failed" by Dr Mark McGovern of the QUT).
The only possible motives that I see are:
- To take away the powers that local communities now have to prevent the further ravaging of their regions by property developers, and
- A cynical political stunt, in emulation of Bob Carr, to use the perpetuation of John Howard's rule to ensure the survival of his Government at the next State election.