Country councils angry

Mayor Ron Bellingham.
Mayor Ron Bellingham.

THE debate over dividing Queensland into two separate states at this week’s annual Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) conference highlighted the level of discontent of regional areas across the state, according to Southern Downs Mayor Ron Bellingham.

Speaking just after the Mackay conference, Cr Bellingham told the Daily News the issue caused some animated debate and it raised “the unhappiness that exists outside closely settled urban areas”.

“You don’t have to be in northern Queensland to be dissatisfied with the way people and councils are treated away from the metropolitan area,” Cr Bellingham added.

Overall, the mayor said, the conference went well and that he relished the opportunity to speak to the Local Government Minister and the opposition.

“I believe both political parties need to pay more attention to rural Australia,” he said.

“I can understand huge income is coming out of the resource sector, and that was greatly debated, but that doesn’t mean to say the rest of us aren’t important. We need to be part of that debate and discussion.”

More than 600 delegates attended the “People and Places” themed conference, which had a particular focus on population growth.

Deputy Mayor Peter Blundell also attended and agreed with the mayor that it was useful.

He said he benefited from a community engagement session held yesterday morning which used a Redlands communications strategy model and showed an excellent process.

Resolutions on valuations and on land tax categories were made at the conference and Cr Blundell said he was happy with both.

He said the valuations resolution would aim to address different valuations being made on similar blocks, and land tax resolution would aim to have categories reassessed more regularly.

He also said it was a great opportunity to see where councils are post amalgamation.

“A lot of councils are experiencing similar issues to us. It was interesting to see how we can handle those issues and how things can be done better,” Cr Blundell said.

“It also showed how we were able to assist others with our experience, which is all part of the networking process.”

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