Proposal to drop two councillors ignites debate

A PROPOSAL to reduce the number of Gladstone councillors has divided the floor.

Mayor Gail Sellers is confident the Gladstone region would be adequately served with just seven councillors.

But as one of nine, understandably she faces some opposition.

"I have worked with both (nine councillors and seven), and when we had seven it was a good number for debate around the table," Cr Sellers said.

"I am definitely for it. I am very strongly for it."

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She was disappointed in her fellow councillors after a discussion about the idea at this week's council meeting fell short of a vote.

"It's unfortunate. There didn't seem to be enough people around the table to take it forward," she said.

"I have represented the Gladstone region for six years now as a full-time councillor. Surely seven full-time councillors can cover the area."

Now she is seeking public feedback on the effectiveness of her council, claiming the reduction would save around $1 million for a four-year term.

She said she hoped the community would voice its collective thoughts on the matter.

"If the community indicates to me that would be viable for them, we would take it to the vote," she said.

The idea was put to the council by Minister for Local Government Community Recovery and Resilience David Crisafulli, she said.

Gladstone Regional Council CEO Stuart Randle said he thought it was unlikely a vote would be cast, considering the deadline to apply for change was March 2015.

"I don't think it will come up again," Mr Randle said. "There's not a lot of time left." 

He also said the majority of councillors weren't in favour and that was an indication of any future discussion.

"They quickly reached the decision collectively not to (consider it, in this week's council meeting).

"If the council had wanted to take it to the next step they would have been required to consult with the community," he said.

"I would be surprised if we hear from that again."

Should the number of Gladstone councillors be reduced to seven?

This poll ended on 21 November 2014.

Current Results

Yes. Any move to reduce costs should be supported

71%

No. Nine is a good number for the size of the region

28%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

WHAT THEY SAID

Cr Ren Lanzon: "Some things you need to spend the money on and spending money on democracy is essential."

Cr Rick Hansen: "I would be happy to work in either size council. It wouldn't worry me at all. Council is always being asked to be frugal, to save money for the ratepayer. I am interested on the community expectations of it."

Cr Graham McDonald: "I am quite sure that nine councillors are doing a reasonable job of covering the region. To suggest going back to seven is taxing to do a just job for the region."

Cr Col Chapman: "I believe the region deserves good representation and if we reduced the number of councillors it would mean the outer regions would have a lesser voice than what they do now."

Cr Maxine Brushe: "The million dollar saving is of course very attractive... but you don't want to lessen the ability to make sound decisions."

Deputy mayor Matt Burnett: "There's no way in the world I think seven human beings could do it. If the community wanted seven, I would support them."

What do you think? Have your say in comments or email letters@gladstoneobserver.com.au.



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