Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

People Power Vote Win Backing for Consultation

Newspaper article Gympie Times, The Qld.

People Power Vote Win Backing for Consultation

Article excerpt

Byline: Arthur Gorrie

PUBLIC pressure across the Gympie Region has forced councillors to rethink their views on electoral reform, with new moves for public consultation on how we elect them.

This follows advice to the state government that regions like Gympie should have councillors elected from particular electorates, or divisions.

This would replace the existing system, under which councillors, as with the Mayor, are elected across the whole region.

It would effectively re-instate the system which operated under the previous Cooloola Shire Council.

The proposal met a cool response from Mayor Ron Dyne last week, when he indicated he was akeen not to have divisionsa and was lukewarm on the idea of consulting the public.

But in what appeared to be a significant backflip yesterday, Cr Dyne told a general council meeting of councillors that media and public concern had convinced him that public consultation was athe way to travel.a

Other councillors backed public consultation but generally expressed their support for the current election system.

Critics say this is understandable, because the current system gives incumbents an advantage over challengers, who would find it impractical and expensive to build a profile and campaign over such a big area.

One of those critics, Dagun resident Reg Lawler, yesterday estimated it would cost a$30,000 to $40,000a for any challenger to campaign effectively across the whole region.

He, Tin Can Bay's Ian Donald, Gympie MP David Gibson and The Gympie Times have all backed public consultation. Both Mr Lawler and Mr Donald said they would call their own public meetings, with the first being held at 2pm Saturday at Tin Can Bay RSL Hall.

GYMPIE Region councillors yesterday unanimously backed public consultation on electoral changes proposed by the state Law, Justice and Safety Committee.

Cr Ian Petersen, seconded by Cr Graham Engeman, successfully moved that council aimplement a community engagement process in relation to the Local Government Bill on 2011 and that the State Government be advised accordingly. …

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