BOUNDARY BATTLE: One Nation wades in to defend ratepayers
WORRIED that a border review between Rockhampton Regional Council and Livingstone Shire could result in Livingstone's residents being slugged higher rates, the One Nation party is speaking out.
Flagged to take place after the next election, the Queensland Government said it would look at the viability of transferring the suburbs of Glenlee, Glendale and Rockyview back under the responsibility of Rockhampton Regional Council.
One Nation's candidate for Keppel Wade Rothery said recent changes to the Local Government Act, under sections 18-19, "have triggered a land grab by Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow that will likely result in Livingstone Shire residents paying thousands more in rates each year".
Since the de-amalgamation of Livingstone from Rockhampton in 2014, he said there had been a vigorous effort made by the Rockhampton mayor to have suburbs on the northern boundary of Livingstone, re-amalgamated with Rockhampton Regional Council.
Mr Rothery said if the Queensland Government transferred the suburbs to Rockhampton Regional Council, Livingstone Shire Council would see an estimated 7 per cent loss in rates revenue.
"Add to that the annual $1 million loss in rates following the purchase of land by the Australian Defence Force in Marlborough, and Livingstone Shire all of a sudden faces an unforeseen and uncontrollable deficit over the next ten years," Mr Rothery said.
"And who is expected to pay the shortfall in rates? Ratepayers left living in the newly defined boundary - that's who."
Mr Rothery called upon Labor's Central Queensland MP's to match his commitment to Livingstone Shire Councillors and Mayor that he would assist in scrapping the boundary review if elected.
Representing the impacted suburbs in the electorate Mirani, One Nation MP Stephen Andrew joined in his colleague's criticism of Cr Strelow saying the residents of Glenlee, Glendale and Rockyview should be allowed to speak for themselves without the mayor "kicking them around like a political football".
"I can't believe the Rockhampton Mayor would presume to know what the residents want or, for that matter, what I might do, without any consultation," he said.
"I am going out there and asking the people in those areas directly whether they feel they should be part of Rockhampton or part of Livingstone and I will back whatever their decision might be.
"They are going to pay rates either way so it's not really about anyone subsidising anyone else."
Mr Andrew said a separate issue was the effect that any change would have on Livingstone Shire Council.
>> READ: Boundary feud bleeds 'bad blood'
Given the "bad blood" surrounding the divisive boundary issue, Cr Strelow had called on the Queensland Government to fast-track the boundary review process.
Responding to One Nation buying into the boundary review debate, she said it had a message for everyone in the Rockhampton Region.
"The people of Glenlee, Glendale and Rockyview who are in the State electorate of Mirani (Stephen Andrews) should note that One Nation will block your return to Rockhampton Regional Council even if you vote to return," she said.
"Residents of the rest of Mirani and in the Rockhampton electorate should know that a vote for One Nation will mean your rates will keep on subsidising Yeppoon.
"And to the very significant proportion of electors from the Keppel electorate who reside in Rockhampton (a huge chuck of North Rockhampton) you should know that your One Nation candidate Wade Rothery will continue the current trend of supporting the coastal community at your expense."
Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said his government was committed to ensuring that local governments best serve their communities.
"The proposed boundary realignment has been referred to the Change Commission, which is the appropriate, independent body to deal with this issue," Mr Hinchliffe said.
"I understand the Commission is liaising with the Rockhampton Regional Council and the Livingstone Shire Council to let them know the review will take place in 2021.
"There might be some preparation work before next year, but the exact timing of the review is up to the Electoral Commission of Queensland."