Council plebiscite laws necessary to guarantee free speech

27th August 2007Council plebiscite laws necessary to guarantee free speech

New Federal laws overriding the State Government’s threats to sack
councils are necessary to guarantee Queenslanders’ freedom of speech,
the Queensland Coalition said today.

Shadow Local Government Minister Howard Hobbs said the Queensland
Coalition had made a submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Federal
Government’s ‘Democratic Plebiscites’ Bill, which is holding hearings
throughout Queensland this week.

“The Beattie Labor Government’s plan to force councils to amalgamate has
been handled appallingly and the most obscene aspect of the process has
been their dictatorial decision to deny people the right to have a say
about the future direction of their communities,” he said.

“While the Local Government Minister last week moved to scrap the
legislative provisions allowing him to sack councils who hold
referendums, these amendments have not been debated or passed yet.

“The Local Government Minister still has the power to sack a council
until those legislative amendments are passed or until the Commonwealth
legislation is enacted to override the state laws.”

Mr Hobbs said public and political pressure from communities, the
Queensland Coalition and the Federal Government forced the Beattie
Government back down on their council sacking threat and it was
important this pressure was maintained.

“The Premier and the Local Government Minister have been acting like
arrogant dictators and it is sad that Commonwealth legislation is needed
to ensure civil liberties and freedom of speech are maintained in
Queensland,” he said.

Mr Hobbs said the Commonwealth laws also ensured communities had the
necessary resources to exercise their right to free speech by providing
for the Australian Electoral Commission to conduct plebiscites on forced
council amalgamations.

A full copy of the Queensland Coalition’s submission is expected to be
made available on the Senate Inquiry website at:

Media Contact – Howard Hobbs 0428 152 656