Democracy – Queensland style

1st August 2007

The Beattie Government threat to use legislation to stop local councils seeking the public’s opinion on planned council amalgamations is an outrageous abuse of people’s right to be heard, Liberal Leader and Shadow Minister for Infrastructure Dr Bruce Flegg said.

He said council amalgamations would affect hundreds of thousands of Queenslanders and yet the government was attempting to quash any opportunity for residents to express their views.

“The process of council amalgamations has been delivered with no regard for community feeling, with token community consultation and with a total disregard for principles of democracy or respect for the views of individuals and communities,” he said.

“Queenslanders have a right to be disgusted by the behaviour of their government.

“Clearly the government’s motive in stopping councils from holding referendums is to ensure momentum is not gained by communities that are widely and strongly opposed to the loss of their local council.

“This decision says more about the arrogance of the Beattie Government and its total disdain for community views in Queensland than it does about any other single thing.

“Local government services in many respects are the ones that have the greatest impact on people’s day to day lives and to deny people the opportunity to express a view to their local council is tantamount to suspending democracy.

“Under different circumstances we would be asking what does the government have to fear from people having the opportunity to have their say.

“On this occasion we know what it is the government has to fear.

“The government is so frightened of the backlash in certain parts of Queensland they are prepared to go to these lengths to prevent people having a say.

“This is arrogance in the extreme from a government that because of its majority in parliament thinks it can do what it likes to the people of Queensland.

“While it is still two years before the next state election Queenslanders will have an opportunity to express their view at the upcoming federal election.

“I do not believe government should be trying to deny people a say in such basic issues.

“At the end of the day local councils and state government belong to the people of Queensland not to Peter Beattie, Anna Bligh or the government of Queensland and the people’s ownership of their local and state governments should never be ignored in this way.”

Media contact: Sally Gordon 0409 066 036