Gympie

Gympie Council Divisions

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Gympie Council Divisions

Congratulations to Reg Lawler for his efforts in “convincing” Gympie Regional Council to conduct public consultation on this important issue for Gympie Ratepayers.

For those that may not be familiar with the issue, prior to amalgamation, the Council areas had divisional representation – where the council area is divided and a resident of that division was elected to Council to represent the electors of the division on Council.  This system is the basis of Australian electoral democracy – Australia is divided into a number electoral regions and states are also have their own state electoral divisions where a resident is elected to represent that area e.g. David Gibson has been elected by the people to represent the Gympie region in Queensland Parliament.

Divisional representation is a fair and equitable system that seeks to ensure that the broader community is represented in Government.  Imagine a state without divisional representation – most of the elected politicians would be likely to be elected from the capital city leaving the rest of the stae without representation.

Unfortunately, divisional represntation was removed during the amalgamation process by decicions made by previous Councillors without any regard for the wishes or concerns of Gympie ratepayers.  Discussion of the whys and wherefores is un-neccesary here as this is history.

Given the State Governments recommendation that divisional representation should be re-instated, the Gympie Regional Council should review the previous stance against divisions.  In this review, Council should consult ratepayers and consider all aspects of divisional representation on the basis of determining the greatest benefit (and least cost) to Gympie ratepayers. 

It would be helpful if the local newspaper could actually provide a balanced report that informs readers of the results of an investigation into the reasons for the State Government recommending re-instatement of divisions with an analysis if the pros and cons of divisional representation instead of presenting what appears to be a one sided opinion (A few weeks ago, they presented an opinion (a bit of a lame tale of woe – look what the Government wants to do to us now) and the reporting in that issue seems to indicate an anti-division stance.

Perhaps they could also review S267 (3) of the Local Government Act 2009 and inform the ratepayers of the potential cost liability of holding a by-election to fill the office of a Councillor.  Without divisions, should a Councillor resign or become ill  leaving the position vacant, a by-election to elect a new Councillor is a full election across the whole Council area.  With divisions, such election is held in that division only.  I wonder if the current Councillors are aware of this liability and just how much a full election costs.

Without divisions, Gympie Regional Council is placing a huge liability on the ratepayer that could cost more than $1 million in the event of one of the Councillors being undable to carry out their duties for whatever reason. (Note: the actual cost for a full election is not available to us at the time of publication but $1M is a conservative estimate that does not include the inconvenience and disruption that results to all electors in the region). 

I urge all ratepayers have your say on this important issue by writing to Gympie Regional Council or completing the online form at http://www.gympie.qld.gov.au/displayprivacy.asp?ID=1348

Have a look at the increases in your rate notices for the last 2 years first though and remember that no divisions means a very costly by-election that won’t be covered in the annual budget and therefore guaranteed to result in more rate increases.

UPDATE – 10 March 2011:
Gympie Council rejects electroral divisions.  Read our view at
Gympie Council – Bad Decision on Divisions

UPDATE – 4/11/2011 – The Queensland Government has decided that Gympie Regional Council will re-introduce divisional representation for the 2012 Gympie election. It is time to ensure that the current Gympie Councillors are called to account and made to regret their self interested decision to disregard the democratic rights of the people of Gympie.

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