Southern Downs Mayor backs away from Amalgamation philosophy

It seems that the  philosophy used to justify wholesale amalgamations in recent times, has not passed the practicality test. Not that its opponents in QLGRA and in other organisations were in any doubt about it. They have long maintained that forcibly amalgamated local governments would be more expensive to run and now one of the Mayors enduring the post amalgamation stress is agreeing that the touted economic benefits of amalgamation were ‘debatable at best.’ Faced with mushrooming costs and preparing to deliver an unpopular budget to ratepayers, it is not surprising that he is looking to shift blame.

This is the same Mayor who boasted about the amalgamated local area having a greater capacity to garner loans. It would seem that he has found that reducing the voices of local governments in Qld has weakened everyone’s position. The deal with the devil has not been to his liking it seems.

Meanwhile proponents of fairer access to boundary alterations for local governments in Qld, continue to join with the QLGRA. So we gather momentum as more people realise that bigger is not better and in fact is increasingly more expensive, less responsive and undemocratic as the closest government to the people slips even further into the hands of systems and bureaucrats and completely out of the influence of the citizens it is supposed to serve.

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Mary Rofe

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11 thoughts on “Southern Downs Mayor backs away from Amalgamation philosophy

  1. So, he’s finally realised that the vast majority of those affected were right has he? It still hasn’t stopped him from being a loyal stooge to the new government (just as dishonest as the last) & their bureaucrats who actually control council, not to mention obstructing every attempt to de-amalgamate & obtain some justice. But I suppose that it’s nice to have your snout in a much bigger trough.

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  2. Considering that Whitsunday Council has recently requested financial assistance then the amalgamation theory is beginning to unravel. The dictatorial approach from the current LNP Government is going to hurt them – but long after it severely damages the people of Qld.

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    • The super-council concept was doomed to failure from the very start. History has shown that the avarice of bureaucrats increases exponentially with organization size. Those with a bit of history on planet earth may recall the voluntary / unpaid councillor arrangement pre the 1970s. Councillors were generally local business operators who attended council meetings during their lunchtime break. There was no need for horrendously overpaid CEO positions & accountability was assured because if a councillor got out of line, his / her business would be boycotted. Furthermore, constituents could always find their councillor at his / her business. I’ve just perused the 2011 – 2012 GCC financial report & was gobsmacked by the scandalous squandering of ratepayer money on totally irrelevant crap. As for the recent state politicians pay-grab, I see that grub of all grubs Tom Tate stands to get over $80,000 extra, bringing his salary to $300,000pa. GRRRRRR. Anyone interested in the life & times of the incumbent Gold Coast mayor should check out http://www.tomtatescam.com

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  3. I truly believe that Mayor Peter has tried to do his best for us in a very VERY difficult environment.Perhaps we should pressure him to step up his endeavours on our behalf. His job is not a very easy one. There are not too many people who would or could do better. Further I blame my choice of the LNP for most of the problems.
    beardedpommybill@gmail.com

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    • Its likely that councils out in the sticks attract somewhat more ‘honorable’ representatives than those in the big smoke. Opportunities for personal gain will always exist, however in country towns the gains are typically measured in thousands of dollars whereas in Brisbane & the Gold Coast we are talking billions. That said, I don’t believe **ANY** misuse of official position should be tolerated, to the point where extremely draconian penalties are called for to dissuade potential offenders. Personally I’d love to see a return to the pre-1970s system whereby councillor positions were voluntary / unpaid (and is still the case in much of the United Kingdom). Both representation & accountability are immeasurably enhanced when ones local councillor runs the hardware store or pharmacy. Unlike the present situation where the councillor is often perpetually inaccessible, one can always thump on the counter of his / her business. Furthermore, itty-bitty councils don’t need a horrendously overpaid chief executive who is unaccountable to anyone despite expecting a $400-500,000 salary, and local business folk have better things to do than gallivanting around the world on all manner of pointless junkets squandering hundreds of thousands of ratepayers hard-earned money.

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      • Doug, I agree wholeheartedly with you. I have several friends in the UK who serve ” gratis”. However in our current political clime. it would be very difficult to attract people who have the wherewithal to operate successfully.

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      • I don’t know that it would be that difficult. Personally I’d never nominate for a paid political position but I would definitely do so for a voluntary unpaid one & I believe the same applies to a lot of retired & semi-retired folk. There are countless numbers of well qualified people in that situation who would be only too happy to donate some time to their communities without expecting round the world junkets & approval for all manner of ‘development’ (or more correctly rape & pillage) schemes typical of the grubs we have thanks to the pay peanuts & get monkeys system. Both the Gold Coast & Brisbane have no shortage of retired / semi-retired business / professional residents with time on their hands & I suspect the same applies to country areas. Why would a system that has worked exceptionally well in the Old Dart be unworkable in Australia ?? Paid political appointments inevitably attract totally inept bloodsucking parasites incapable of getting a ‘real’ job (eg Wayne Swan & most of the Blighted ministers), hence few if any truly community minded folk pursue that vocation. I regularly mention the David Brin quote ‘It’s said that “power corrupts,” but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.’. Quite frankly, I don’t see the command-performance battle against other bloodsucking parasites for a paid political position worth the effort considering that one first has to prostitute any principles one might have had to survive in the political rat-race, in fact prostitution of principles is essential even to win pre-selection at state & federal levels. Human nature is naturally inclined to be corrupt & the paid / corporate model of politics is irresistible to the slimy bottom-feeding parasites we’ve been saddled with at all levels albeit more obviously so at state & federal levels. Unfortunately, local government has traditionally been a nursery for breeding grubs that mature into state or federal politicians, hence the need to stamp on them as juveniles before they manage to turn into ‘professional’ politicians.

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  4. Now that we have the Auditor General’s report to Parliament showing very clearly these amalgamated councils are heading into debt levels they will have difficulty in servicing it is way past time the Government acts in a positive manner and allows those previously successful local councils to de-merge and get this state, and local communities, back to a stable financial and workable footing.
    It amazes me how a Government will scream about the need to cut costs but ignore one of the greatest developing financial strains on the state with these failing super councils.
    $20 million to bail Whitsunday Council out of difficulty with NO guarantee they will not need more in the near future.
    Several Large and Very Large councils also categorized as “at risk” for long term sustainability and the Minister refuses to discuss the issue with the people of Queensland.

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    • The costs of super-councils simply had to be well in excess of predictions because as we’ve seen with every single government enterprise in recorded history, avarice of politicians & bureaucrats increases exponentially with increasing organization size. A council double the size of the ones it superceeds doesn’t in fact incur lower total costs as the parasites in George Street would have us believe, but rather cost increases at the very least four times the previous total. One of the causes of this cost blowout is due to councillors who were previously only paid appearance money, now getting $150,000+ salaries and bureaucrats who used to get between $45,000 & $80,000 are now on $150,000+. Furthermore, expensive overseas junkets and ratepayer funded cars are now expected. Despite the massive cost increases, the standard of accountability & representation have decreased dramatically to the point where the more cynical of use believe that was the true intent of super-councils. Note the concerted efforts by politicians over the past twenty years to divest themselves of any semblance of accountability by corporatizing & privatizing everything possible. I suggest that the intent of creating super-councils is just more of the same. Queensland is a special case since we have effectively no opposition, no upper house, a governor interested only in big-noting herself, a toothless watchdog & a virtual dictatorship in government. Furthermore, most of the super-councils have an incestuous relationship with the incumbent dictatorship. On the positive side,the fact that these super-councils have proven to be such unmitigated disasters provides an opportunity to replace them with something infinitely superior to that they replaced. Note that most local authorities in the UK have reverted to the unpaid / voluntary councillor model, meaning that representation & accountability are enhanced whilst operating costs are reduced. That said, there is no doubt whatever the powers that be will strenuously oppose any move to do the same in Australia because their interests are reducing accountability & representation whilst furthering their grasp of power and authority.

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