Bush councils fate to be learned tomorrow

26th July 2007The Queensland Government will reveal plans for local government amalgamations tomorrow, almost a week ahead of schedule.

The Local Government Reform Commission was snowed under with submissions on the contentious issue of proposed council amalgamations and given a very short period to deal with them.

Despite this, it will deliver its report to Qld Local Government Minister, Andrew Fraser, tomorrow, ahead of its August 1 deadline.

In rural circles, the move has renewed fears the councils’ fate was decided before the Commission was even set up, and that the LGRC has acted as a “rubber stamp”.

AgForce believes the Friday release date has been deliberately timed so the Government can manage media fallout.

“Anything released on a Friday afternoon indicates the outcome may not be favourable and is probably detrimental,” AgForce policy adviser Sue Dillon said.

The media management theory goes, that by releasing bad news late on a Friday afternoon, governments leave little opportunity for daily newspapers and television crews to report the decision in detail or seek reaction from interested parties in time for their evening deadlines.

“We completely understand the community angst over this issue and when this report comes out there’ll still be some shock waves,” Ms Dillon said.

The claim is denied by both the State Government and the LGRC.

Ms Dillon said the AgForce-led delegation of bush mayors, plus social, health and education groups, is now preparing for to be called in to meet with Premier Peter Beattie and Mr Fraser early next week.

“Minister Fraser and the Premier have said if we have serious concerns with elements of it, they will take that on board,” Ms Dillon said.

“We’ll advise the Premier where the recommendations will have major detrimental impacts and provide some solutions.”

SOURCE: Queensland Country Life, weekly rural newspaper