Where to Now?

During an address to a Caboolture audience, Mr Ken Park, Vice Chairman of  “Reclaim Caboolture Shire Inc” outlined a four point strategy to dissolve the inefficient Regional Councils imposed on the community by the State government in 2008.

“Scott Prasser mentioned the Colonel who gave Margaret Thatcher the plan to take back the Faulklands. I am a Colonel [or was] and I have the plan to take back our local councils. In fact I have four plans!

PLAN A. LOGIC. Perhaps we could convince the Minister to give us a referendum because of [1] the undemocratic process that we have had, or [2] because of the broken election promises that they gave, or [3] because of the unfairness of the Crisafulli process or [4] because of the expensive failures by the amalgamated regional councils.
A waste of time ladies and gentlemen. They won’t listen, they don’t care, and they no longer pretend to believe in democracy.
BUT, although logic is wasted on the government, we do need to continue to focus sound logical arguments on the ratepayers of this state. At all costs the voters must never be allowed to become complacent, to accept the current situation as the status quo; something permanent and unchangeable.

PLAN B. STATE ELECTIONS. We could field a bunch of candidates at the next state election. This has problems: we don’t have the resources to match the government or the opposition [and remember that they are of one mind on this issue] and we would be a single issue party. We could however endorse and campaign for a party that promotes our policy. We have heard from one party today, and there could be more before the election. Some of the more hair-brained schemes of this LNP government could see their huge majority reduced. Perhaps reduced to the point of a third party having a major influence.
There is possibly one exception, Redcliffe. Sitting member Scott Driscoll single handed, when he was an LNP member, thwarted the de-amalgamation aspirations of 85% of the voters of Redcliffe. He has galvanised the de-amalgamation cause in Redcliffe. If he is sacked or resigns in time for a by-election prior to the next full election, then that could be sold as a de-facto referendum on the de-amalgamation of Redcliffe City. The Premier, of course is doing everything in his power to delay the sacking of Driscoll. This is however a definite possibility, using either our own candidate or supporting a sympathetic minor party. The LNP brand has been so tarnished in Redcliffe that any result could occur in a by-election.

PLAN C. DEMONSTRATIONS. We can take a leaf out of the book of the unions, the parents who are losing their local schools, the radical green movement and the more strident aborigine elements. Marches, demos, sit-ins, pickets, sit-downs, and tent embassies never of themselves convinced a single politician. Confrontations with the police, smashing windows and chaining oneself to a tree or bulldozer won’t win political arguments. These noisy and colourful confrontations are however just what the media wants. The media gives the impression that a mere hundred banner-waving demonstrators is in fact representing a much bigger body of opinion, a strongly held opinion. It thrusts a cause into public view. I do know that we are not a group that would relish a night in the cells or a ticking off by a young magistrate; but it may be the only way. On 9th November, Noosa, Mareeba, Livingstone and Douglass go to the polls to again elect their own councils and the question needs to be asked in a very public way: why not us? After all, Redcliffe and Caboolture rated higher than those four on all criteria of viability and sustainability. I plan to be at Noosa on this election day with our banner, searching for every TV camera I can find.


PLAN D. YOUR LOCAL CANDIDATES. At the next council elections, and regrettably they are a long way off, I propose that in Moreton Bay Regional Council we endorse one LOCAL candidate in each division. We have 12 divisions plus the Mayor. Around here it cost $0.5M and the sponsorship of some well heeled developers to be elected as Mayor so we probably won’t contest that position. If we can get 7 of our people up, we control the council and the Mayor’s casting vote is neutralised. The first item on the agenda of the council would then be that the council will hold a referendum on de-amalgamation. Councils can now authorise their own referenda. Have a look at our manifesto. It embodies everything that your councillors should have been doing and it embodies everything that your regional councils have been failing to do. I do believe that we would win by a huge majority. Our printing costs would be low because all candidates have identical platforms. Indeed, right throughout the state, we would plan to field candidates in every amalgamated council where there is a desire to return to the good old days. Like Labor threatened in 2007, to sack any council that proposes a de-amalgamation referendum, no doubt the present state government will likewise threaten us. BRING IT ON. The day you sack one council is the day you lost the war.

So there are four strategies for WHERE TO NOW.
We need to maintain local sustained pressure on the people with sound logical argument on how they were sold a pup, a very expensive pup, a disobedient pup by both brands of state government. We need to make the point more stridently, more aggressively and more colourfully because that is the only way to interest the media. Then we need to consider the next state elections. Perhaps there is a party that we can endorse and support. Perhaps there is a potential to greatly embarrass the state government at Redcliffe if that seat becomes vacant.
However, the strategy that I recommend , that Crisafulli will be powerless to stop, is to contest all divisions in all the dissatisfied regional councils across the state; win control of those councils with LOCAL people power and then, at last, to have the referenda that we should have had in 2008. I suggest that all areas think about that proposition. I suggest that we look at it more closely within QLGRA.We do have time to consider it and to plan and fine-tune our strategy.

1. LOCAL councillors will demand a council managed referendum on de-amalgamating the regional council back to its individual local councils.
2. LOCAL councillors will attempt to freeze expenditure on all lavish, unnecessary, extravagant and iconic projects approved by the regional council.
3. LOCAL councillors will impose an immediate freeze on rates and will budget for progressive reductions.
4. LOCAL councillors will oppose all new borrowings.
5. LOCAL councillors will ensure that all council meetings are open to the public as far as lawfully possible; and that the final decisions are always made public. A new era of openness and accountability will commence.
6. LOCAL councillors will consult ratepayers continually and will encourage ratepayer participation in every aspect of council’s affairs.
7. LOCAL councillors will demand frequent staff reviews to control the growth of the bureaucracy and of bureaucratic procedures and red tape.
8. LOCAL councillors will vote to reduce councillor’s salaries to the lawful minimum. They will work towards returning to the arrangement when councillors were not full-time professional politicians, but rather they were part of the community.
9. LOCAL councillors will ensure that council frequently consults with developers and local employers and will ensure that council resolves development issues by negotiation, not in court.
10. LOCAL councillors care for the environment and for the unique character of our area.”