Courier Mail, The (Brisbane), 18/05/2007, pg. 9

QUEENSLAND councils have threatened to lead a protest against Labor ahead of this year’s federal election if the Beattie Government does not back down from its proposed boundary reforms.

The Local Government Association of Queensland yesterday issued four key demands to the State Government to change its council reform plans or face a federal electoral backlash.

It has urged a broadening of the Local Government Reform Commission’s terms of reference to include alternatives other than forced amalgamations, such as shared service arrangements.

Also on the hit-list is an extension of the commission’s deadline for structural changes from August 1 to mid-December and calling for a referendum. Council elections could then be held next October.

“Nothing short of the State Government agreeing to the following position and amending legislation as necessary will result in councils running an organised campaign calling for a protest vote against Labor at the federal elections,” the LGAQ position statement said.

President Paul Bell, a member of the ALP, said the strong community resentment of Labor could deflect from the state to the federal arena.

Cr Bell called on Federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd to act as a “circuit-breaker”.

Urban Local Government Association president and Townsville Mayor Tony Mooney also warned the strength of feeling in the bush against council amalgamations could result in a backlash against federal Labor.

Cr Mooney said he was impressed with Mr Rudd’s leadership after he called for the terms of reference for the review to be widened.

But in the face of the mounting criticism, Local Government Minister Andrew Fraser said the state would not back down on the reforms.

He said he was prepared to take the “cutlery in the back”.

Copyright 2007 / Courier Mail