Venue: Rosslyn Bay Resort, Rosslyn, Yeppoon, Qld.
Saturday 20th August 2016
GUEST SPEAKER: Councillor Bill Ludwig, Mayor of Livingstone Council
Mayor Bill Ludwig welcomed the group to Capricorn Coast and the Shire of Livingstone. He described himself as ‘someone who never sees the hurdles’. Bill discussed the history of his shire’s successful de-amalgamation. He considered the lack of engagement of local Qld Councils in the SSS process established under the Beattie Government in 2006 as pivotal in the amalgamation decisions that were later made. This was despite his best effort as Mayor of the original Livingstone shire to engage in the process. He advised that the SSS facilitator for his area recommended 4 councils be amalgamated into 3, however the decision to amalgamate into one was unexpected. Bill reported serving one term as councillor in the new Rockhampton Shire before recognising that this Council had no vision for the Capricorn Coast region.
Deciding that de-amalgamation was critical to the return to good governance, Bill and others commenced the campaign to achieve this, ensuring he met with critical people such as the Minister David Crisafulli, plus overcoming the difficulty of collecting two petitions with similar wording in a short time frame. He was able to raise $45,000 to fund the campaign from local businesses. He was able to convince the LNP government of the case for Livingstone once the new council was able to spread the cost of de-amalgamation across 5 years.
The referendum for de-amalgamation was more difficult than others as some locales in the original shire were close to Rockhampton and logically may have been better served by staying in that council area. Bill reported later in his speech that the council has increased its standing with these communities since de-amalgamation but has a process open to allow them to return to Rockhampton if they so wish.
Bill considered the return of a local council to Livingstone as his greatest achievement in his Local Government career. Disappointingly, Bill reported that he fully supported a motion by Peter Blundell, Mayor of Southern Downs Council, at last year’s LGAQ meeting to review amalgamations. This motion was soundly defeated.
Bill reported that the council has applied high rate rises since the amalgamation but feels that this has been accepted by the community as they have seen value for money. (The area also faced a severe cyclone immediately after de-amalgamation). They are aiming for surplus in 2021. The shire has also been far more successful in gaining state and federal funding specifically for the local council area. This would not have happened under the previous shire.
Bill reported that the de-amalgamation has also enhanced the performance of the Rockhampton Council. He has also worked hard to inspire council workers to take pride in their shire and workmanship.
Bill recommended seeking access to the local facilitator of the SSS program for information, developing relationships with champions of ‘local councils’ and jumping on every ‘chink of blue sky’.
Former QLGRA Chairman Bob Johnson moved a vote of thanks to Bill Ludwig.