Regional councils plan referendums on amalgamation

4th July 2007The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) and the State Government have locked horns again on whether it would be lawful for councils to hold referendums on the issue of forced amalgamations.

LGAQ president, Paul Bell, wants the affected councils to hold referendums on August 18, in the aftermath of the Local Government Reform Commission’s recommendations for new council boundaries – due at the end of the month.

“The LGAQ has received legal advice that it would be lawful for councils to hold referendums on that day in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government Act,” he said.

“I will be recommending to councils that are proposed to be amalgamated, to hold such referendums,” he added.

But Premier Beattie, speaking on 4BC radio in Brisbane, maintains the government has the power to stop the referendums.

“If we think that is a waste of millions of dollars of ratepayers’ money, we won’t allow them to waste that money,” the Premier said.

LGAQ executive director, Greg Hallam, concedes that the relevant Minister has the reserve power to stop the referendum.

“But then it’s on his head as to why he has denied the voters a say,” Mr Hallam said.

Last week’s survey of community attitudes towards the State Government’s forced amalgamation process showed only 10.5pc of Queenslanders thought it was fair, while 75pc – rising to 86pc in south-east Queensland – were demanding a referendum to determine the issue.”

SOURCE: Extract from report in Queensland Country Life, July 5.