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Taroom not forgotten merger

MESSAGE FOR ANNA: Taroom resident Ross Bennett hung this sign on the back of his float in the LLeichhardt Festival on Saturday, showing they the town has not forgotten about forced council amalgamations.
MESSAGE FOR ANNA: Taroom resident Ross Bennett hung this sign on the back of his float in the LLeichhardt Festival on Saturday, showing they the town has not forgotten about forced council amalgamations.

MANY Taroom residents thought Local Government amalgamations were “udderly ridiculous” when the former Taroom Shire was merged with Banana Shire at the last council elections.

Judging by this sign (pictured) on one of the floats during the Leichhardt Festival, not much has changed 18 months down the track.

Ross Bennett, who had the sign done up as part of the Taroom Rodeo float, said Taroom residents were worse off under amalgamation due to 20% increases in water and rates charges in the old Taroom shire at the past two budgets.

“It's a big issue in Taroom - the issue's still simmering,” Mr Bennett said.

“I'm not one to get political.

“Everyone that's seen it loved it,” he said.

Mr Bennett had a high-school student draw the sign because “I can't draw my own name”.

He said country people felt they had lost status with the State Government riding roughshod over the top of councils, being too focused on the south-east and ignoring the bush.

Banana Shire division six councillor Vaughn Becker said he was surprised to see the sign, which he labelled as “tongue-in-cheek”.

“There is still concern and angst at the amalgamation process - at the way the State Government did it and tore the heart out of communities,” Cr Becker said.

“This is settling down - there is general acceptance although there is anger at high rate and water rises,” Cr Becker admitted.

This followed on from a survey released on the weekend which found 60% of Queenslanders thought councils were more inefficient since amalgamations.

“I was not surprised - I thought it may have been higher,” Cr Becker said.

The State Government has denied recent claims by the State Opposition that more mergers are planned.

Local Government Minister Desley Boyle told the Central Telegraph there would be no amalgamations during this term of government.

“Mr Hobbs should end the rumour mongering and encourage councils to get on with the tough job that is local government,” Mrs Boyle said.

Shadow Local Government Minister Howard Hobbs said Mrs Boyle's refusal to rule out more forced council amalgamations would send a shiver down the spines of councils still dealing with the fall-out from the last round of amalgamations.

A spokesperson for the Minister later clarified Mrs Boyle's statement, stating “there are no planned amalgamations full stop”.


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