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Moderator deplores council amalgamation proposal

Moderator of the Uniting Church in Queensland Rev Dr David Pitman

Moderator of the Uniting Church in Queensland Rev Dr David Pitman has condemned the decision of the Government to abandon a process of consultation already underway and appoint a Commission to redraw Council boundaries across much of the State.

“During my recent visit to Longreach, this was the most common topic of conversation everywhere I went,” Dr Pitman said.

“People feel angry and betrayed that those rural shires very large in area but quite small in population will be most affected.

“It is extraordinary how this process parallels what happened with regard to the Mary Valley and the proposed Traveston Dam.”

Dr Pitman said the previously established protocols and processes for consultation were simply abandoned without warning.

“This action taken appears to be based entirely on economic grounds without reference to other issues such as the impact on the people and the communities in which they live.”

Dr Pitman said despite requests from rural communities for information about the impact of such decisions on employment, service levels, local representation and geographic distances, the government has not provided adequate or detailed responses to their concerns.

“The time frame imposed severely limits the capacity of the Shire Councils and members of the community to contribute meaningfully to the process and for the Commission to adequately consult with rural communities.”

Dr Pitman said this decision adds to the stress levels of small rural populations still in the grip of a seven-year drought and who, because of their remoteness, have limited capacity to influence the political process.

“Rural people feel they have not been heard despite protest about the way they have been treated and their calls for greater consultation.”

Dr Pitman said concerns remain that any forced merger of Shire Councils carries a very real risk of increased unemployment, loss of services and the further decline of rural communities.

“City people need to support those whose lives, and livelihoods, will be adversely affected by holding the government accountable over the implementation of this decision.

“I deplore this Government’s ongoing indifference to the unnecessary confusion and distress caused by its decisions and actions.

“When will they learn?”

Photo : Moderator of the Uniting Church in Queensland Rev Dr David Pitman