Cr Vic Pennisi
Cr Vic Pennisi Liana Turner

Councillor's doubt about official demerger report

"WHAT is the truth?”

It is a question that has troubled Stanthorpe resident and Southern Downs Councillor Vic Pennisi, as he was asked to make "the most difficult decision of his political career”.

Speaking against a motion to oppose the de-amalgamation proposal, Cr Pennisi called for an independent review to end uncertainty created by the two vastly disparate reports.

"Which set of figures that have been made available to us demonstrates an accurate account of the real picture?” he asked.

"How can two reports, made with the same information be so far apart?”

The proposal put forward by the Granite Belt Community Association in favour of de-amalgamation predicted the split would be financially viable.

But a review undertaken by the Queensland Treasury Corporation, an independent body, had a very different view of what de-amalgamation would mean.

While Cr Pennisi said there had never been more doubt in his mind, others slammed the GBCA report.

"On reading the proposal, it is clear the one-off cost of de-amalgamation has been misrepresented,” Mayor Tracy Dobie said.

"The association has been irresponsibly saying there is zero cost associated with the transfer of employees, and that de-amalgamation will cost less than $1million,” she said.

The mayor also said forecast expenditure had been underestimated or omitted and ongoing income had been overinflated.

GBCA vice-president Amanda Harrold defended the report, saying the author had extensive experience in previous de-amalgamations.

"The previous four QTC reports ... were found to be flawed. All the scary rate rises they predicted did not happen at all,” she said.