Local Government and Other Legislation Amendment Bill

Hon. GW ELMES (Noosa—LNP) (Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs and Minister Assisting the Premier) (4.59 pm): I rise in support of the Local Government and Other Legislation Amendment Bill. This is the end of a very long journey for my community. The passing of this piece of legislation and the election that will take place next Saturday 9 November to elect a new mayor and six councillors for my community sees an end to something that started back in, I think, March 2007 when Peter Beattie was sitting in the Premier’s chair and decided to take away the right of people in local government to have a say on their future. In my community of Noosa, people have attended rallies, taken part in plebiscites and marched in the streets. One day we had 7,000 people out the front of this Parliament House and most of them were from my community. It has been an extraordinary journey. However, if we forget the terrible cost, and it is a dollar cost, it will be something that our community will be very proud of because it acted as one and it never lost the faith. We demonstrated and we jumped up and down and we pulled stunts and we did whatever we needed to do in order to make sure that our voice was heard. The first voice that was heard was that of Jeff Seeney when he was the opposition leader. He was followed by Lawrence Springborg and John-Paul Langbroek and, more recently, by Campbell Newman who maintained the faith. He made sure that those communities that wanted to deamalgamate and that wanted to act as a strong and cohesive voice were given the opportunity to do so. On Saturday of next week, as I said, we will do it. 

I make a point in terms of the legislation that is before the House tonight. I heard the member for Mackay talk before about an amendment that the minister will be moving in terms of concurrence agencies. The only community that is in this situation is my community, because of a development called Noosa on Weyba. The member for Mackay used the figure of 56 per cent in reference to dwellings and so forth that sat within the continuing Sunshine Coast area. I think the figure is a little closer to fifty-fifty than that. However, more important is the infrastructure. For example, in terms of sewage pipelines and forth, about 6.5 kilometres of pipes will have to be built across Noosa to our sewage treatment plant. We pick up most of the infrastructure that will be needed. The passing of the minister’s amendment will give Noosa the concurrence agency role for that part of the development that falls within the new Noosa shire and that will make the people of my community very happy

Democracy always comes at some sort of price. Democracy Noosa-style happened last night with a meet-the-candidates function that was held. Eight hundred people turned up to grill a couple of mayoral candidates and 19 aspirants to council. About a week before, in a little community called Pomona, in the electorate of the member for Gympie but still in the Noosa shire, 250 people turned up to go through the same exercise. 

Something that all of us should remember is this: in this job arrogance gets you nowhere. This whole process is the result of the absolute total and complete arrogance and being out of touch by the former Labor government. The most dishonest, disgraceful man that was ever elected to this parliament was the former Treasurer, Andrew Fraser. He went out of his way to make sure that he got a result for himself, in order to make himself look a big man in the eyes of the then Premier. However, as a result of that arrogance, the Labor Party is now reduced to seven members in this House. It is good for all of us in this House to remember that lesson. We are here to do the best thing we possibly can by the communities that we are elected to serve, not to manoeuvre them like a pawn or group of pawns to suit one’s own political purpose at the time.  

I congratulate the minister for successfully bringing to an end what is a very sorry episode. Again I congratulate my community for the way in which it has conducted itself, particularly the 82.3 per cent of Noosa people who voted ‘yes’ to return their local government.