One Council for Electoral Divisions of Longman and Fisher

Bob Buick 2002


 Background:

Our system of government were developed by the British Colonial office with the third tier, the national government, added in 1901 with the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia.

During the nation's first fifty years there was no need to change how we were governed but this all changed after WWII with the massive increase of population due to our immigration. State governments continued to jealously protect their rights and borders being separate constitutional states. This protective shield has restricted development and implementation of good effective government. The last twenty years has seen the world electronic communications blown into cyber-space removing the tyranny of distance along with the mixing of government's services between the federal and state governments. Government responsibility is difficult to separate between the national and state government in dozens of portfolios.

This mixing of services had to come because the states divide did not create uniformity across the nation; the state colonial attitude came to the fore. After one hundred years Australia is still Six States and a Commonwealth, not a nation in the true sense. There is little argument that Australians are over governed and are paying more, for less, and it can be argued that state governments are no longer needed.

Should Australia remove a tier of government, the consensus is that state governments must go, there will need be changes to local governments at the same time.

Local governments will need to be created to service the people based on equality and fiscal responsibility and strengthen the link with the federal government. The trick is to develop a model that does not disrupt the national government system, create equality of services and representations to the nation parliament. Certain common factors must be observed when doing this, these include commonality of commerce, industry, services, interests and lifestyle.

How can this be done?

Australia’s population is approaching 20 millions with about 150 federal electoral divisions averaging about 85,000 voter enrolments. These divisions do not cross state boundaries and with the removal of state boundaries the Australian Electoral Commission will need to redraw all boundaries. When completed voter enrolment could be changed and so will the numbers of Members to House of Representatives (MHR) change. For this presentation the present boundaries and enrolments will be retained and the electoral division of Longman and Fisher the divisions used. It will become apparent that if the model presented is considered then numbers of Members and Senators in parliament will increase.

Present Division statistics: (From AEC website)

Longman: Enrolment: 83 408

Area and Location Description:

It covers an area of approximately 1984 sq km covering part of the local government areas of Caboolture and the south-western part of Caloundra City. Suburbs and towns include Beachmere, Bribie Island, Burpengary, Caboolture, Deception Bay, Landsborough, Maleny, Morayfield, Narangba, Wamuran and Woodford, Glass House Mountains, Peachester.

Products/Industries of the area:

Dairying, beef cattle, horse studs, poultry farms, pig farming, and various crops including grains, pineapples, fruit, flower farms and tourism.

Fisher: Enrolment: 85 315

Area and Location Description:

It covers an area of approximately 558 sq km taking in the southern and central Sunshine Coast beaches from Caloundra to Maroochydore and the coastal hinterland railway towns from Mooloolah to Palmwoods.

The main towns include Alexandra Headland, Buderim, Caloundra, Eudlo, Kawana, Maroochydore, Mooloolaba, Mooloolah, Palmwoods, Sippy Downs and Woombye.

Products/Industries of the area:

Tourism is the major employer. Other industries include fishing, pineapples, orchard crops, poultry and flowers. The Sunshine Coast University is located at Sippy Downs.

The similarity of industry, agricultural products, geographical and lifestyle of these divisions enable the creation of one local government covering this are containing an expanding population of about 200,000.

Present Local Government statistics:

Caloundra: population is about 74,666 (ABS website)

Maroochy: population is about 125,050 (ABS website)

The variation of numbers between the local governments is not reflected in federal electoral divisions. The federal criterion is based on voter enrolments and boundaries are moved when necessary, this is not the case with local governments. Fisher has within its boundaries parts of the Caloundra Shire; this is common in all divisions.

However in this model electoral boundaries will be fixed - irrespective of population drift. This is why the writer selected the electoral divisions as methodology.

Electoral representation:

Federal Government:

In this model there would be no change in electing MHRs’ to parliament, but with the abolishment of states there will be changes to divisional boundaries, the constitution will also need to be change. At present there are twelve senators per state this would change to one senator per local government region. Therefore nationally each region/province would elect 2 MHR and 1 Senator in most cases with rural and Outback region being dealt with later.

One of the arguments against the three-tier system is that the state and federal representatives are too remote from local government; this argument is strong and not challenged. The removal of the state government opens the way to create a system that will draw the voters and federal politicians together. There will be greater access between those in the federal parliament, local government and the voter. The politician’s responsibility is also directly linked to the electorate this is really the the case now because of party demands and policy, politicians would disagree with this observation.

Political Parties:

With the removal of the state governments, everything "State" is killed off, including political parties. The writer does not expect political parties to die out but there will massive upheavals within political parties. Politicians are selected and promoted by The Party  so their primary duty to their political party and the removal of the powerful state party they must will need to consider who they are representing, the party or their constituents. What ever happens to political parties will create an interesting pantomime worth watching.

Local Government:

Maroochy and Caloundra councils have twenty-four councillors, 13 and 11 respectively including mayors. The question for consideration is; "How many councillors would be needed, and, what criteria is needed to create an administration for local government if this or a similar model is accepted?"

In Qld most shires are divided into divisions each with an elected representative we need to ask if this is the best representation for service, effective management and value? Each shire also has a CEO (Shire Clerk) with departmental managers according to how the shire determines its needs. There are hundreds in some local governments with Brisbane, the exception employing thousands. It seems that some local governments have removed all departments and contacted services, retaining a small administrative office but still retained divisions for elected representation. Is this the way to go?

However, there are some horizon gazers who discuss and argue that having electoral divisions at local government level is inefficient and that an elected board of management (Local Government Board) would be a better method to run the council, not unlike most larger businesses and corporations. These elected board members drawn from the local government region and may number no more that ten or fifteen as determined.

Conclusion:

The responsibilities for local government should not change except for certain services that directly involve the region. Changes to government service will be changed with the elimination of states. Most will be transferred to the federal sphere but others could be taken over by local governments. Here are some suggestions;

The implementation of the removal of state governments will need public consideration and participation.

When could this be considered and done?

All of us need to consideration how we could improve government now!

Discussions encouraged between friends, clubs and groups because the best time to change to how the nation is governed is when it becomes a republic. It will be too late to promote any change if politicians can force early referendums,  especially if they intend to kill off any promotions to the removal of state governments.

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