Mayors respond to minister's action on a boundary change
TANGIBLE progress towards determining the fate of three suburbs to Rockhampton's north was welcomed by the two local mayors caught in the long-running boundary dispute.
Livingstone Shire mayor Bill Ludwig (pictured) and Rockhampton Regional mayor Margaret Strelow (pictured) shared their thoughts on Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe's decision to refer the proposed boundary change to the Local Government Change Commission.
Cr Ludwig said Mr Hinchliffe must be commended on his continuing commitment towards helping the two councils find a consensus way forward.
"Last year our council was pleased to play a role in helping shape and then endorsing the terms of reference for a possible boundary change," Cr Ludwig said.
"In doing so our discussions with the Minister were very open and frank that our support for the process would be conditional on there being no adverse impacts on Livingstone ratepayers or council's long-term financial plans and sustainability.
"With those terms of reference now put forward to the Local Government Change Commission for independent assessment and determination I agree with Minister Hinchliffe that this is a positive step forward."
He said council also welcomed the Minister's assurances that both councils must ultimately agree to before any proposed changes took place.
"The other important stipulation from Minister Hinchliffe is that all Livingstone residents will be afforded the opportunity to participate in a referendum on the matter once all the Commission's recommendations and information is available for their consideration," he said.
"Council will be suggesting that referendum could take place in conjunction with the 2020 Local Government elections in March next year.
"With goodwill and reciprocal respect I believe boundary changes could occur once again providing they are supported by our community.
"Previous boundary changes between Livingstone and Rockhampton have been successfully negotiated and delivered with positive outcomes for both local government areas and our respective residents."
Cr Strelow said there were many reasons why the boundary change should happen and RRC were delighted it had progressed to the Change Commission.
"It has been a long journey for us to get to the stage where both councils could agree on what the words were and agree that the minister should hand back to the boundary commissioner," Cr Strelow said.
"It's not a foregone conclusion, there's also a few things that we're keen to see considered.
"We're keen to see fairness in financial costs and benefits also considered."
She said Rockyview, Glendale and Glenlee residents referenced and used RRC's community facilities but their rate money goes towards LSC.
Once the boundary commissioner had made their determination and recommended that a referendum took place, Cr Strelow said "it would be a very bitter thing indeed if all of Livingstone Shire got to vote before one section could leave".
"At de-amalgamation, that was not a courtesy extended to the Rockhampton community and that would not be an acceptable solution to us," she said.
She would prefer the referendum to include the Rockhampton Region or to be limited to the three suburbs to be transferred.