House debates

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Matters of Public Importance

Local Government

3:29 pm

Photo of Paul NevillePaul Neville (Hinkler, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

We will come to that. I think the member for Maranoa is probably right. The south-eastern corner is fast running out of resources and money, so if you can close down a lot of country councils and alter the payments to councils, you can keep a bit more down in that south-eastern corner. I hope I do not give any offence to my colleagues who have electorates in the south-eastern corner, but we have seen with the Traveston Dam what the Beattie government is capable of if it wants something in a particular area. Might it be to politicise local government? If you get great big area councils then it will be easier to have Labor candidates stand for council. Perhaps that might be the case.

Might it be part of a policy to further advance control-freakism and centralisation? I ask that because this same Beattie government is rolling the port authorities into each other. It rolled the Rockhampton Port Authority into the Gladstone Port Authority. It melded the Bundaberg Port Authority with that of Brisbane. And, surprise, surprise! We also have, of the district health councils, the North Burnett health council getting rolled into the Bundaberg one, and there is a similar pattern across the rest of the state. It is control-freakism, all right. It is centralisation of government, and this particular form of amalgamation is just another manifestation of it.

Might it be a thinly disguised attack on councillors who might become National or Liberal MPs? A lot of Liberal and National MPs come from local authorities—not that they ever stand as Liberals or Nationals in those local authorities; they all stand as Independents. Why do we need to have politics about who collects the garbage, where the water comes from, where the sewerage is and who mows the parks and so on? Why do we need to have politics about who builds the roads? Of course we do not need it. But if you can make the councils into bigger units and knock out a lot of the conservative types of people who generally serve on them, you can, if you like, reduce the gene pool of the conservatives. Some might say I am paranoid, but, no, I am not.

Mr Beattie has form. Was it not Mr Beattie who fairly recently brought in a rule that said that instead of standing down to contest a state election, you have to resign from your council? Of course, there would be the cost, if you lost, when the election was over and you wanted to recontest your seat. You would have to stand again or, if you did not stand, there would have to be a by-election, with all the expense. Why could you not let someone stand down? If they won, they would resign. If they did not win, they would go back on council. But, no, there could not be anything as simple as that. They get rid of them because they are probably a conservative candidate.

Mr Beattie tried it with federal members. Did you all know that? He tried to do it with federal members, but the High Court had something to say about that. What are the local reactions to this?


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