By Jeremy Sollars
Organisers of a rally in Stanthorpe tomorrow calling for de-amalgamation from Warwick have more than 5000 signatures on a petition to be sent to the State Government.
The rally – organised by the Granite Belt Community Association – will be held at CF White Oval from 3pm tomorrow, Sunday 29 April and is expected to draw strong numbers, with the petition still able to be signed.
Under State Government rules, for de-amalgamation to proceed to the next stage – which is a detailed examination of financial feasibility – initial support must be demonstrated by at least 20 per cent of former Stanthorpe Shire voters.
With 7360 Stanthorpe residents on the electoral roll at the end of 2007 – the year before amalgamation with Warwick – that benchmark has easily been reached through the petition.
It is understood Mayor Tracy Dobie will not attend tomorrow’s rally but that Stanthorpe councillors Cameron Gow, Vic Pennisi and Marika McNichol intend to be there.
A spokeswoman for the Granite Belt Community Association today told the Free Times the mayor and all councillors are “welcome to attend” the public rally.
The Association has moved to clarify the procedure for de-amalgamation and tomorrow’s rally, with some confusion in the community about the process.
“We are following instructions from the state government on how to proceed,” the spokeswoman said.
“We are now at stage one which is to prove public support for de-amalgamation – this is via the petition and Sunday’s public rally.
“At the rally a motion will be put to the community for the Granite Belt Community Association to move to stage two – which will be the investigation of feasibility and financials.
“If, after stage two de-amalgamation is feasible, we will be able to move to stage three.
“If it proves to not be feasible, it will not go forward.
“It is really important for the community to attend the meeting on Sunday to learn more about the advice we have received on the steps forward and to show their support that they wish for de-amalgamation to be investigated and proceed to the next stage.”
De-amalgamation would require a referendum of all residents of the region, the State Government has said.
A spokesman for Queensland Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe told the Free Times earlier this year that “for a local government de-amalgamation to be considered for referral by the Local Government Minister to the Local Government Change Commission, it must meet a number of criteria”.
“It needs the support from the community for the change, have the support of the affected local government(s), and provide a detailed financial analysis that shows the change would result in financially sustainable councils,” the spokesman said.
“In addition, for major boundary changes including de-amalgamation, the State Government will only consider a recommendation of the Change Commission after a successful referendum of all residents of the affected local government.
“These requirements are yet to be met for consideration of a Stanthorpe de-amalgamation from Southern Downs Regional Council.”
To sign the de-amalgamation petition online go to www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-assembly/petitions/petition-details?id=2880