Noosa, Local Government

Hon. GW ELMES (Noosa—LNP) (Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs and Minister Assisting the Premier) (2.34 pm): On 9 March, just 12 days ago, an historic vote took place in my community that allowed Noosa residents to determine the future of their own local government. It is a vote that should never have taken place had the Labor government of the time had any respect for the rights of individuals and communities.

The arrogance of the Beattie Labor government and the Bligh Labor government that forced communities like mine into amalgamating councils will never be forgotten or forgiven. When we talk about arrogance, the person who best fits that bill is the former Treasurer, Andrew Fraser, who used the process to build his profile with his Labor colleagues and, in so doing, tried to destroy the overwhelming community spirit that exists in Noosa.

From that date in 2007 we did not lie down and simply take it. Some 18,747 residents on one day signed a petition opposing forced amalgamations. Around 80 per cent of residents made their feelings known in a postal plebiscite. Some 8,000 Noosa residents and their supporters marched on Parliament House and in between we sold raffle tickets, held community forums, bought stickers and T-shirts to fund our campaign and to keep the community’s dream alive.

On 9 March, 81.36 per cent of residents voted yes for our independence day. It is was a stunning result and was celebrated on that Saturday night by hundreds of people outside the old Noosa shire chambers and many more at a gathering on Main Beach and hundreds more at the Noosa Rugby Club.

The Bible tells us a story about David and Goliath. The moral of this story can be applied to our little community. Determined to punch well above our weight against all the odds, against all the criticism, against all the dodgy deals, false hopes and bent promises, we have maintained our pride in our home and our belief in ourselves.

I will be eternally grateful to my colleagues Jeff Seeney, Lawrence Springborg and John-Paul Langbroek who, when leaders of the opposition, created, refined and maintained the policy of self-determination over the last six years which kept our dream alive. I would also like to thank the honourable member for Warrego for his help to my community. Premier Campbell Newman maintained that promise because less than 12 months after attaining government, and keeping true to our election commitment, I as the local member have been able to deliver on the promised vote for the people of Noosa.

All in this place are proud of their home, and I am very proud of Noosa. We live in our environment as best we can. We have protected it and nurtured it so that our footprint on it is barely seen. Overwhelmingly people choose to live in Noosa. New residents quickly adapt to our deeply held values and our shared sense of community. We have put the dead hand of Labor behind us and we have now reclaimed our future.