Noosa Council Deamalgamation - Private Members Statement

Hon. GW ELMES (Noosa—LNP) (Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs and Minister Assisting the Premier) (3.05 pm): Whatever distortions and mistruths Peter Beattie tries to peddle to the people of Forde in his bid to make himself relevant, one thing he cannot deny is his determination to kill off local councils across the state. He can pretend the huge budget black hole left for this government was all Anna Bligh’s fault. He can deny responsibility for opening the floodgates to soaring electricity prices through deregulation. He can even try to claim credit for positive things which happened despite him being Premier. However, he cannot escape responsibility for being the one who obliterated the Noosa shire council and dozens more around the state. Maybe that is why he was in Townsville this week: he was trying to convince people that they were better off without the Thuringowa council, which he got rid of.

If recent polls are any guide, Peter Beattie is failing to remake himself as a federal politician, but thanks to the Newman government the Noosa shire is having no such problem remaking itself. One thing Beattie and his bumbling apprentice, Andrew Fraser, could not destroy was the spirit of the people of Noosa. What Beattie and Fraser dismantled in Noosa, this government is helping to rebuild. In March 2007, the Beattie Labor government pushed through legislation that took away the right of the people of Noosa to decide on whether or not they wanted to be a part of the amalgamated Sunshine Coast Regional Council. In just over three months time, we will see Noosa recreated as the proud local government area it was before the Beattie local government jihad. Part of that process is reconstructing the council structure and reclaiming buildings, machinery, motor vehicles and other assets that were taken over by the Sunshine Coast megacouncil.

Amalgamating was a simpler job because it just required all of the Noosa assets to be handed over to the Sunshine Coast Regional Council. Untangling the Beattie mess is a more complicated task. Transition manager, Peter Franks, is doing a great job to keep the process on track to ensure that from 1 January next year we will have the Noosa council back. I would also like to thank my cabinet colleague the local government minister for providing the legislative framework so that it can happen.

I am particularly pleased that the recreated Noosa council will not be stuck with a bill for the payment of duties for assets transferred back from the Sunshine Coast council. The assets were taken without the people of Noosa having a say and it would be nothing short of criminal if Noosa ratepayers had to pay an extra charge to get back what is rightfully theirs. I look forward to the recreated Noosa council serving the local government needs of the people of Noosa, providing the locally based services and amenities they were denied by the Beattie Labor government. When Noosa residents finally got to have a say in a referendum earlier this year about the forced amalgamation, more than 80 per cent said they wanted the Noosa council back as a stand-alone council.