Rockhampton Regional Council's city hall.
Rockhampton Regional Council's city hall. File

CQ mayors divided by deferral of northern boundary decision

A DECISION on whether to return the northern suburbs of Livingstone Shire Council to Rockhampton Region has been deferred until after the next Local Government election.

This means there'll be no change for five years in a situation Rockhampton mayor Margaret Strelow claimed was "incredibly unfair”.

Livingstone mayor Bill Ludwig has welcomed the delay though, saying caution was needed in light of the Federal Government's buy-back of ratepayer land for the Shoalwater Bay expansion.

Cr Ludwig said that expansion meant Livingstone had so far lost an extra 6.5 per cent of land previously held by ratepayers. The total Livingstone land now occupied by the Australian Defence Forces is about 31 per cent.

"For Livingstone to lose another 10% through a rushed or forced boundary change with Rockhampton as well within the next 10 years without substantial compensation would be reckless and irresponsible,” he said.

"There is certainly no town planning case for Rockhampton needing more residential land inside the next decade.

"It would also be in nobody's interest to rush change without a plan to ensure Livingstone ratepayers are not unfairly disadvantaged once again as we were when amalgamations were unfairly rushed forced upon us in 2008.”

He said the council endorsed and supported the State Government's plan to have Livingstone residents vote again whether the suburbs should return to Rockhampton.

"Council's very clear understanding is that no determination has or will be made in relation to boundary changes without the solid agreement of both councils,” he said.

"Currently our long-term financial modelling suggests that no changes be considered within the current 10-year forecast period without agreement to substantive measures to ensure there is absolutely no financial disadvantage for Livingstone as a whole.”

However, Cr Strelow said it was unfair that Rockhampton be expected to provide services for northern suburbs without the benefit of the rates.

"If Cr Ludwig considers that he is 'badly done by' in missing out on $2 million per year rates for Shoalwater Bay - where he doesn't have to provide any of the normal services such as libraries, parks, sporting facilities, and where the road damage is repaired after each exercise by Defence - then imagine how unfair it is for us when we miss more than $2 million a year rates for a community that equals 5% of 'our' population,” she said.

"It is one thing to lose income on one side of the balance sheet and for that to be balanced by less outgoings on the other. But quite another to be paying out without any offsetting income.”

Cr Strelow said people living in the northern suburbs used Rockhampton roads and facilities funded by council.

"They understand the unfairness of that and yet that situation must now continue for a further four years,” she said.

"I appreciate that the Boundary Commissioner has a lot on his plate at the moment, but that doesn't make this delay fair.”

Cr Strelow said she was concerned that a decision made early in the next term but not finalised until the following election would mean ratepayers could be forgotten.

"Will the residents of the communities of Glenlee, Glendale and Rockyview receive value for money for the rates they pay for four years to Livingstone Shire? Will the roads be maintained and parks improved?

"I try not to bellyache too much about this issue because I feel very sorry for the residents of the northern suburbs who are trapped through no fault of their own, but there needs to be some recognition that it is Rockhampton Region residents, residents from all over the region, from Mount Morgan, Gracemere and Gogango as well as Rockhampton City who are making up this shortfall in our budget.”