Bligh must scrap forced council amalgamation plans

12th September 2007New Premier Anna Bligh should go back to the drawing board on council
amalgamations and ensure communities have a genuine say in how they are
governed locally, the Queensland Coalition said today.

Deputy Opposition Leader Fiona Simpson urged Ms Bligh to ditch the bully
boy tactics of her mentor Peter Beattie and scrap plans to force
councils to amalgamate, in favour of sensible reform with genuine
community input.

“Labor’s forced council amalgamations have generated widespread anger
and distress from the top to the bottom of Queensland, in both city and
country,” she said.

“Even supporters of council amalgamations are saying the way it has been
done is damaging and there was no need for it to be done in such a
rushed, ham fisted way.

“To date Anna Bligh has largely tried to avoid the council amalgamations
debate, but she owes it to Queenslanders to come clean on where she
stands on forced council mergers.

“It is simply not good enough for Ms Bligh to say she will make her
intentions clear later, Queenslanders deserve to know now.

“If she really believes in social justice and fairness, she would
revisit this draconian bully boy decision of her State Labor Government
to ensure communities have genuine involvement in how their local
government is structured into the future.”

Ms Simpson also said Ms Bligh had not visited any communities to hear
what local people were saying about forced council amalgamations.

“The Coalition has visited communities right across Queensland from
North of Cape York to the border of New South Wales and there is
universal condemnation of Labor’s dictatorial approach on council
amalgamations,” said Ms Simpson.

“The Coalition’s position on forced mergers is clear, we will not force
any community to merge with another against their will and where these
forced mergers have taken place against the communities’ will, we’ll
allow them to de-amalgamate if they wish.”

Media Contact – Jeff Popp 0438 153 857