Throwaway line haunts ex-minister

8th November 2007

What seemed an odd throwaway line some 25 years ago goes to the heart of the State Government’s motivation to forcibly amalgamate local councils, says Nobby resident Kevin Perks.

Mr Perks, a union member of 40 years and a card-carrying Labor man for 30 years, says he attended a party meeting in the tea rooms of the Hughenden railway station in the early 1980’s to hear an address by a young Terry Mackenroth, who went on to become local government minister in the Goss Government and deputy premier to Peter Beattie.

Mr Perks says it was a long time ago but his memory is intact.  He is confident enough in his recollection and that of others in attendance that he has lodged a written complaint to the Crime and Misconduct Commission. Mr Perks says Mr MacKenroth told the meeting: “When we get into power we’re going to shut down most of these councils out here in the bush.”

When Mr Perks asked why, Mr Mackenroth reportedly responded: “It’s a breeding ground for Tory politicians”.

Mr Perks said this goes to the heart of the credibility of the Local Government Reform Commission – on which Mr MacKenroth sat – in drawing the plans for cutting the number of councils in Queensland from 156 to 72.

“Given this statement of bias, Mr Mackenroth should have excused himself,” Mr Perks states in his complaint, which the CMC has accepted for further investigation.

The complaint also questions the presence of former State Liberal Leader Bob Quinn on the commission due to his absence overseas for part of the LGRC’s sitting period.

“It must be considered that given the short time allowed for the review of all the documentation submitted, how could Mr Quinn have committed reasonable time, resources to make an informed conclusion, while fulfilling his role as a commissioner,” the complaint states.

Mr Perks is part of the Clifton Shire Community Group Against Forced Amalgamation, which will held an open protest meeting on 8 November.

Source:  Queensland Country Life 08 November 2007