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.