Mayor slams de-amalgamation report as SDRC rejects proposal
SUPPORTERS of de-amalgamation say they are "not giving up" on a fight to cleave away from the Southern Downs, despite local politicians rejecting their proposal in a controversial 7-2 vote this morning.
A crestfallen Alan Colyer emerged from the Warwick Town Hall, disappointed after his $60,000 community-funded proposal to form an independent Granite Belt Council was slammed by Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie.
"The proposal is negative and focused on the past," Cr Dobie said.
In a passionate speech, she accused the Granite Belt Community Association of aggression toward non-supporters.
"Residents who have spoken out against de-amalgamation have been publicly belittled," Cr Dobie said.
"I was looking for a vision and positive outlook on the proposal, but there was none."
The scathing comments were met with anger from a crowd of more than 50 people, many of whom travelled from Stanthorpe for the meeting.
"It's not going to go away,' Stanthorpe resident Ray Palmer Snr said.
"The two communities are like oil and water. Keep shaking and they will mix a bit, as soon as you stop shaking they separate."
Controversy has surrounded two reports, both allegedly based on the same figures provided by Southern Downs Regional Council, but painting a vastly different picture of what de-amalgamation would mean for residents.
While the GBCA report claimed a split would be financially viable, analysis by the Queensland Treasury Corporation predicted residents of the new Granite Belt Council would be pummelled with an 82 per cent increase in rates.
The association called on the council to support their de-amalgamation bid so both reports could go to the Change Commission for an independent review.
"If you were really supporting the people you would say yes it can go forward and then everybody can get the full facts," Heather Colyer said.
The association stood by its report prepared by former Brisbane City Council senior executive David Spearritt.
"We didn't just go and put some figures on the back of an envelope," GBCA vice-president Amanda Harrold said.
But for the seven councillors who voted to not support de-amalgamation, their faith was in the QTC.
Breaking into tears at the end of a heartfelt speech, Southern Downs councillor and Stanthorpe resident Marika McNichol said the financial burden on residents would be too high.
"My heart says yes and my mind says no," she said.
"I want you to know this has been a very difficult decision for me to make. But I must make the decision with the facts that I have."
The GBCA will continue to call for the two reports to go to the Change Commission.
Councillors who voted to support report:
- Vic Pennisi
- Cameron Gow
Councillors who rejected report:
- Tracy Dobie
- Rod Kelly
- Neil Meiklejohn.
- Yve Stocks
- Jo McNally
- Sheryl Windle
- Marika McNichol