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News items from August 2007

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30 August 2007

Queanbeyan and Palerang Councils consider B.U.R.R.A.'s boundary submission

In late July, the Director General for the Department of Local Government referred the B.U.R.R.A. boundary submission to Queanbeyan and Palerang Councils. Read the Director General's letter.

Queanbeyan City Council (QCC) held a public meeting at Fernleigh Park on 8 August to hear residents views. B.U.R.R.A. asked, and was given time, to make a presentation to that meeting so that those attending would be aware of the key points of the submission.

We estimate that approximately 150 people attended that meeting, with a substantial percentage of those coming from Royalla. At the final show of hands, only 4 people indicated they did not support the proposed boundary change.

Queanbeyan Mayor, Cr Frank Pangallo, invited everyone present at the Fernleigh meeting to attend QCC's Council meeting in Queanbeyan on 15 August, when the submission was to be considered. Following a long discussion at that meeting, Queanbeyan decided to support the Minister referring the submission to the Boundaries Commission.

A motion to object to the BURRA submission received no supporting votes from QCC councillors other than the proposer (Tom Mavec) and the seconder (Steve Taskovski). While some QCC Councillors indicated they supported the submission in principle, they were reluctant to take any action without first having all the information on the costs and benefits to both Councils. The motion they finally adopted reads as follows:

RESOLVED on the motion of Crs White and Overall that the Minister be advised that Council is currently divided in their view due to time constraints and lack of staff input and guidance and will look forward to resident's input and petitioning residents to input to the Boundary Commission process.

RESOLVED on the motion of Crs Rocca and Bastion that Council hold a workshop for Councillors if substantial information becomes available and the workshop include a senior staff member from Palerang Council.

Palerang Council did not hold a public meeting. The Mayor, Jim Maclachlan, and General Manager, Peter Bascomb, attended the Fernleigh Park meeting but declined an offer by the Mayor of Queanbeyan to address the meeting.

Palerang held a closed workshop on 16 August to discuss the B.U.R.R.A. submission. No members of the public, including members of the B.U.R.R.A. group were invited to attend the workshop.

At the Palerang Council meeting on 23 August, the General Manager tabled a scathing and somewhat inaccurate report about the B.U.R.R.A. submission, culminating in this recommendation (note that he got the Burra Urila Residents and Ratepayers Association's name wrong in the first line of the recommendation):

RECOMMENDED that Council:

  1. Not support the Burra Urila Ratepayers and Residents Association (sic) proposal for a boundary alteration to excise Burra, Urila and the part of the Royalla Estate not already located in the Queanbeyan City Council area from Palerang Council and relocate them within Queanbeyan City Council;

  2. Request that the Minister not proceed with the proposal and not refer the proposal to the Boundaries Commission; and

  3. Request that the Minister, should he refer the BURRA proposal to the Boundaries Commission, also refer alternative proposals for more substantial changes to Palerang's border with Queanbeyan and other adjacent local government areas with these proposals to be prepared by Palerang Council over the coming months.

Councillor Terry Bransdon moved that the General Manager's recommendation be accepted, however, Councillor Harrex proposed an amendment that Palerang should not object to the submission going to the Boundaries Commission. That amendment was defeated.

Councillors Catherine Moore and Ian Marjason spoke in support of the BURRA submission, but, in the end, the General Manager's recommendation was supported by all Councillors except Councillors Moore and Marjason.

The General Manager's report is available on the Palerang website.

Read our statements presented to the meeting in response to the General Manager's report, and our statement about community of interest issues here:

What next?

It's our understanding that the submission will be referred to the Boundaries Commission.

What can you do?

Sign the petition

If you support the boundary change, but haven't yet signed the petition, sign now (insert link to petition).

Write to our local State member, Steve Whan MP

Your local State Member, Steve Whan, says he recognises the community of interest issues, but is concerned about the impact a boundary change might have on Palerang's viability. Contact Steve Whan with your views at:

Address Mr Steve Whan,
110-112 Monaro Street ,
QUEANBEYAN NSW 2620
Phone (02) 6299 4899
Fax (02) 6297 9998
Email monaro@parliament.nsw.gov.au

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30 August 2007

Palerang fudges the numbers: An each-way bet and dose of scare tactics for good measure

There are a number of inconsistencies in Palerang's reaction to the proposed boundary change.

First is the inconsistency in Palerang's argument about the potential impact of losing the Burra Urila and Royalla (B-U-R) area.  On the one hand, we have the Palerang General Manager and several of the Councillors saying that Palerang cannot survive without the ratepayers and rates Palerang receives from the B-U-R area. 

On the other hand we have Cr Matt Gardiner and the Mayor (and Burra resident) Jim Maclachlan, saying that Queanbeyan residents will need to 'subsidise' us if we go to Queanbeyan. Indeed, a very late supplementary paper provided by Palerang's General manager to Thursday's council meeting says as much although it only includes rates income, and none of the other non-rates income that Councils receive. By Palerang's own admission, the numbers in the pink paper are 'flawed'. 

What are we to make of these conflicting claims? Either we are a 'cash cow' or a drain on Palerang's resources – it is not possible that we can be both! Yet Palerang can't seem to make up their mind which is correct.  Most likely, they don't actually know themselves which is correct, as they told B.U.R.R.A. when we were compiling our submission, and the General Manager's paper confirms, that they do not keep financial information by geographic area.  Instead, they want 'two bob each way'.

We were disappointed that the whole thrust of Palerang's paper to Thursday's council meeting appeared to be nothing more than a petulant attempt to discredit B.U.R.R.A. by inventing non-existent errors in our submission. 

We are also puzzled as to why, on the one hand, Palerang is so keen to keep B.U.R.R.A.'s submission away from the scrutiny of the Boundaries Commission, but on the other hand has resorted to its old 2003 scare tactics by raising the spectre of a 'super-shire' with Queanbeyan or 'other adjacent local government areas'.

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28 August 2007

A Tale of Two Councils

Compare the way the two Councils have handled the B.U.R.R.A. Boundary Submission:

Queanbeyan City Council immediately organised a public meeting in Fernleigh Park to seek all residents' views, publicly invited residents to attend its Council meeting last week, and will hold a further workshop to examine all relevant information before finalising its position.

Palerang Council has not held any meeting to seek residents' views, but held a closed workshop last week to formulate a fixed position prior to any discussion at last night's Council meeting.  Residents who could make the long round trip to Bungendore were given the opportunity to address council, but had no further right of reply.

Some Palerang councillors chose to cast aspersions on the veracity of our petition.  The petition contains 315 signatures which represents about 40% of the enrolled voters in the Burra, Urila and Royalla area.  All of the signatories are residents in the Burra, Urila and Royalla area, a substantial percentage of them from Royalla.  The petition has been scrutinised by the Dept of Local Government's legal section and has been found to be in order.  Neither Council has been sent the petition, by us or the Director General, in order to protect the privacy of those who signed.

All in all, Palerang's conflicting statements about whether the Burra, Urila and Royalla area is a cash cow or a drain indicate an ill-thought-through, knee jerk reaction which results in averting the need to make public the crucial elements of its financial position.  Add to this Palerang's closed-shop approach and the very obvious scare campaign designed to silence their ratepayers and we wonder how little they really value their constituents' views.

We look forward to our submission going to the Boundaries Commission so that the whole issue can be subject to independent scrutiny resulting in an unbiased recommendation to the Minister.

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16 August 2007

RLPB Rating Review

The report of the review into the Rural Lands Protection Board (RLPB) Rating system is now available from the RLPB website at: www.rlpb.org.au/files/RLPB_RATES_REVIEW_REPORT.pdf (388kb – external link).

The review, which was headed by former National Party MP, Richard Bull, identified both strengths and discrepancies within the current rating structure - especially for smaller lot landholders. The review proposes solutions that it says will inject some fairness into the system. Among the recommendations are:

  • A base charge applicable to all ratepayers – to be set at $40, $50, or $60, at the discretion of individual Boards;

  • A return to a minimum 10ha threshold for rating eligibility

  • All rates, special purpose levies and the meat industry levy assessed by land area

  • An environmental rate applicable to all ratepayers

  • Ability to apply a differential rate for anomalous situations over certain areas or land use types

  • Reductions in rates for voluntary conservation agreements and for pensioners

  • A standard animal health charge for all eligible ratepayers

  • Changes to the Annual Return to simplify compliance and to increase accuracy in livestock declarations

(RLPB) ratepayers now have an opportunity to have their say on the recommendations of the independent review of the RLPB rating system.

Written submissions must be received by 14 September and should be directed to:

RLPB State Council Locked Bag 21,
Orange, NSW, 2800

OR email rlpbsc@rlpb.org.au

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Last updated: 14 March, 2010

© 2007 Burra Urila Residents and Ratepayers Association Inc