Maryborough feels 'forgotten'

THE INAUGURAL reign of the Fraser Coast Regional Council has just passed the half way mark and while disenchantment and discontent bubbles across the region, it is arguably at its sharpest in Maryborough.

Toss the words “council” and “amalgamation” into a conversation with a resident of the Heritage City and words like “forgotten” and “failing” inevitably rebound the other way.

When the office of Warren Truss released the results of an extensive survey of his Wide Bay constituency in April 2009, the less than glowing report for the Fraser Coast council and amalgamation was met with derision in some council quarters.

However, a slimmed down version of the survey 12 months later did not signal a turnaround in the levels of discontent in Maryborough, Tiaro and Woocoo – the Fraser Coast areas in the Wide Bay electorate.

Satisfaction with the council’s performance had slid from 19 per cent to eight per cent, while the numbers favouring a de-amalgamation referendum soared from 61 per cent to 76 per cent.

“De-amalgamation would create a lot of problems but the feeling is high on this side of Saltwater Creek,” former Maryborough city councillor Ted Weber said.

“The angst against the current council is pretty high.”

He concedes that a de-amalgamation process would be difficult to bring about but with the perception of a “Hervey Bay-centric” regional council only increasing, it’s the D-word that won’t go away.

“We’re not the only ones thinking that way but certainly the feeling here is higher,” Mr Weber said.

Mr Weber, who was chair of the Maryborough council’s planning and development committee from 1991 to 2004, points with some frustration to the loss of the $300m Della Vista Lakes Development in Granville, the Queensland Flight Training School and the protracted application process for the IGA complex on Tooley Street.

“We didn’t just rely on consultants, we rarely used them. We looked for people’s ideas (in the community). That’s how the prison and the Brolga came to Maryborough,” he said.

“We don’t seem to be going anywhere here. It’s become the graveyard of development.

“It’s disappointing. The people here feel they’re being left out in the cold. I think Maryborough has slipped a long way since amalgamation took place.”

While acknowledging the council was “a creature of State Government”, he described it as reactive and lacking strong political leadership. “The effort by the council is disappointing because we don’t seem to be going anywhere. The efforts of the Maryborough councillors is pretty poor. They’re like sunflower candidates, turning their faces to catch the votes in Hervey Bay.”

TRUSS-WORTHY SURVEY

Are you satisfied with the performance of your local council?

April 2009 (5000 people surveyed)

Yes – 19 per cent

No – 64 per cent

Undecided – 17 per cent

April 2010 (1800 people surveyed)

Yes – 8 per cent

No – 83 per cent

Undecided – 9 per cent

Would you support a referendum proposing de-amalgamation?

April 2009

Yes – 61 per cent

No – 28 per cent

Undecided – 11 per cent

April 2010

Yes – 76 per cent

No – 17 per cent

Undecided – 7 per cent



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