On 17 April 2013 the Local Government Minister, David Crisafulli MP declined the Ratepayers Action Group's appeal against the Change
Commissioner's Final Determination to not change the boundary to enable the Hills District to move into Brisbane City Council's jurisdiction.
In doing so the Minister invoked S.21 of the Local Government Act 2009 which provides that a decision
of the Change Commissioner cannot be appealed against.
The appeal had been lodged on the grounds that the Change Commissioner, through his determination, had unfairly prejudiced Hills District peoples' democratic right to have a say on who should
govern them at local level.
The Local Government Change Commissioner (Queensland Electoral Commissioner) released his report on 8 March 2013 rejecting the proposal that the Hills District and Bunya be transferred to Brisbane City Council.
The report was issued in final determination form.
He deemed the greater public interest for the people of Brisbane and Moreton Bay was better served by maintaining the status quo.
He determined that Bunya had a greater affinity with
Moreton, and that while response from the Hills District was mixed, he dismissed the Hills District's claims on the basis of the costs that the State government would have to bear in relation to:
(1) a poll of all residents of both Brisbane and Moreton
Bay on the issue
(2) the widescale redistributions of electorate boundaries on both sides of the border that the potential injection of 14,000+ voters from the Hills District into Brisbane would cause.
He felt that the weight of the community's
arguments were insufficient to overcome the cost of changing boundaries.
His conclusion, in terms of the extent of the polling, is unprecedented in that the last similar case in Queensland, way back in 1995 when the Karana Downs/Kholo community wanted
to leave Ipswich and go to Brisbane, the only areas that were polled were Karana Downs and Kholo.
In dismissing our case he avoided the central plank of our submission that our area's greater community of interest with Brisbane was clearly demonstrated
by our geographic co-location with the Brisbane suburbs that immediately surround us and our daily interaction with people from these suburbs.
The Commissioner's report can be found via the Electoral Commission's website at www.ecq.qld.gov.au under
the heading Hills District Review Final Determination.
Where to from here? Our appeal to the Local Government Minister has fallen on deaf ears. At this stage, having exhausted all current legal avenues, we feel we can only now bide our
time, put the issue on the shelf, and bring it out again when the state government environment is more amenable to change.
The Hills District To Brisbane
The opportunity for Hills District and Bunya residents to have their
say about their future, came about through the Ratepayers Action Group, South Pine Branch presenting a 4000+signatures petition to the Local Government Minister on behalf of the community in early December 2011.
RAG’s authority to represent
the community arose from a public meeting attended by 400+ local residents at the Hills District Community Centre on 30 October 2011. The meeting, attended primarily by Hills residents, voted overwhelmingly in favour of RAG taking the proposal
forward to the Local Government minister.
RAG had made an executive decision to include Bunya in the proposal to Move To Brisbane on the basis that Bunya residents, apart from their rural setting, also predominantly live a Brisbane focused
lifestyle and use the same community facilities as Hills District residents.
This decision was influenced by the Local Government (Operations) Regulation which provided that local government external boundaries should not divide
local neighbourhoods or adjacent rural and suburban areas with common interests and economic or cultural interdependencies.
The Minister referred the matter to the Local Government Change Commissioner on 19 January 2012
for investigation after the 2012 state and local government elections had been completed.
Reasons for the proposal include:
The geographic location of the Hills District & Bunya relative to neighbouring Brisbane suburbs
The combined area is only 11-15km from Brisbane CBD
Hills District & Bunya residents have a greater ‘community of interest’ with Brisbane than Moreton Bay region
Facilties such as sport/recreation/shopping/schools/community & commercial services are already shared between Hills District/Bunya and Brisbane residents.
An additional benefit from going to Brisbane, given the #1 concern
in the state is living costs, was the lower costs for BCC ratepayers in relation to general rates and water/sewerage charges. This is because BCC has a larger more concentrated population and benefits from a large CBD.
See the Gallery
section of this website for a flyer that sets out the differences in costs and other factors between the two councils.
The Minister’s referral to the Change Commissioner was framed in such a way that if Bunya residents didn’t want
to transfer to Brisbane but Hills District residents did, this shouldn't affect the outcome for the Hills District. The vice versa situation applied as well.
That is, the two areas were considered as separate but related to each other.