Divisions divide opinion
DIVISIONS could become a reality in the Fraser Coast region at the 2012 local elections but only after the public is “widely consulted”.
A spokesman for the Department of Local Government confirmed the Electoral Act would be reviewed this year but said the process was only at a preparatory stage now.
“The community’s views will be sought on exactly that sort of thing,” the spokesman said when quizzed about the prospect of divisions being introduced or imposed.
Sources at the Fraser Coast Regional Council remain suspicious about State Government commitments in the wake of forced amalgamation in 2008 and the withdrawal of major capital funding last June.
One source close to Brisbane has described the divisions proposal as “a political time bomb” but said such “a hard decision” was unlikely before a state election.
For former Tiaro mayor and current Fraser Coast councillor Linda Harris divisions are not a preference.
“It could be desirable but when you sit down and you do the numbers, no,” she said.
“If you do the numbers Hervey Bay would end up with an assured six or seven councillors, Maryborough would probably get two and the rest of the region might get one councillor because you have to have a quota of votes for each ward.
“I know that some councillors do feel a concern in that there would be a lack of voting power.
“If they were locked into broad representation, basically all of the votes would go to the Hervey Bay area.”
Poona resident Alex Biggs feels otherwise. The rural fire officer believes the coastal town, which has 350 permanent residents, would benefit from a return to wards.
“When we were part of the old Maryborough council, Barb Hovard visited us quite often and we had a good relationship with her,” he said.
“But now we find it very hard to get anything done. We have no go-to person.
“If we had one person like we used to, I think it would be a lot better.”