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Rate money spending debate: do we need a new hinterland council?

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The continual tug-of-war debate over which parts of the Sunshine Coast raise the most rates revenue and where that money should be spent has triggered an unusual idea for a solution.

A former deputy mayor and staunch hinterland supporter has again highlighted the need to solve the disparity, once and for all.

Former Maroochy Shire Council Deputy Mayor Trevor Thompson.

Former Maroochy Shire deputy mayor Trevor Thompson believes the Sunshine Coast Council area should be split – with a new local government area formed solely to look after the interests of hinterland residents.

In Mr Thompson’s view, the dividing line for the split would be the Bruce Highway.

“Pretty simple. Straight west of the Bruce Highway, there are about 14 towns,” Mr Thompson explained.

“There’s approximately 55,000 people – it’s similar to Noosa Shire and bigger than Gympie Shire, bigger than Somerset Shire.

Do you have an opinion to share? Submit a Letter to the Editor with your name and suburb at Sunshine Coast News via: news@sunshinecoastnews.com.au

“We just have to see if the rate base is there … and if we don’t start the conversation, we don’t get to the end of it.

“The big super council, the Sunshine Coast, has now gotten too big for itself. Most of the money goes to the coast; the hinterland seems to be the poor cousin and I think it’s time we looked at it.

“There’s about 350,000 people on the Sunshine Coast … I’m all about communities of interest.

“I keep saying, ‘Where’s the community of interest between Mooloolaba and Kenilworth’. We’ve lost our identity here.”

However, it’s an idea that has been strongly rejected by Sunshine Coast Council, which said the hinterland communities “are an important part of the economic and social fabric of the Sunshine Coast”.

“Over a ten-year period (ie. the past six years and the next four years), the proportion of council expenditure on capital works projects which is allocated in hinterland areas has been greater than the proportion of general rates council will receive from rate payers in these areas,” a Council spokesperson explained.

“Council’s average capital expenditure over that ten-year period in Divisions 10, 9, 5 and 1 is 33.5%, with 33.1% of general rates received from these divisions.”

The resurrection of the separate councils concept follows what were described as forced amalgamations of many local governments across Queensland in 2008.

The Local Government Association of Queensland has been reported saying the amalgamations were triggered by concerns that some local governments “were struggling with small populations, ageing infrastructure, difficulties attracting skilled staff, and financial weaknesses arising from a high dependence on state or federal government grants”.

Maroochy Shire, Caloundra City Council and Noosa Shire Council were amalgamated to form one Sunshine Coast Council in 2008. Noosa Council was successful in reversing the amalgamation in 2012 and is now a stand-alone local authority area.

“Decisions on local government external boundaries are matters for the State Government.  In that context, it should be noted that more than two thirds of the 77 local governments in Queensland have been assessed as unsustainable,” the Sunshine Coast Council spokesperson said.

“Sunshine Coast Council is one of the strongest and most financially stable councils in Queensland – indeed potentially in Australia – and the hinterland communities benefit from the sustainability and strong financial position of Council.

“Sunshine Coast Council does not support any proposals for major external boundary changes for its local government area.”

The LGAQ has been approached to provide comments for this story.

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Sunshine Coast Council has provided the following list of capital works projects in hinterland areas for 2022/23:

Division 10:

  • Nambour Splash Park* $3.26 million
  • Eumundi Town Centre Placemaking, Eumundi* $1,585,858
  • Nambour Administration Precinct, Nambour $750,000
  • Eumundi Tennis Court Replacement, Eumundi ** $600,000
  • Kanes Road Lower Order Gravel Road Upgrade, Bridges $550,000
  • Nambour Showgrounds – Moss Day Pavilion, Nambour $460,000
  • Quota Memorial Park – 3 Tier Play Structure Replacement, Nambour $450,000
  • Design and construct pedestrian bridge, Petrie Creek Parklands, Nambour $450,000
  • Nambour Showgrounds Equestrian Arena Upgrade, Nambour $350,000
  • Namba Place Revitalisation Project, Nambour $300,000
  • Kirbys Road Environmental Reserve Carpark Construction, Obi Obi $200,000
  • Panorama Drive Pringle Intersection, Nambour $155,000
  • Kirbys Road Environmental Reserve Toilet, Obi Obi 150,000
  • Kenilworth Town Park BBQ and Shelter, Kenilworth $80,000
  • Kenilworth Town Park Playground Renewal, Kenilworth $70,000
  • Nambour Skate Park Shade Area $65,400
  • Kulangoor Cemetery Site Development Stage 2, Kulangoor $58,000
  • Nambour Connection Road – Pathway Renewal, Yandina $54,000
  • Design of North Arm Park Playground Upgrade, North Arm $5,000

Division 9:

  • Nambour Resource Recovery Centre Design and Construction, Bli Bli $9,900,000
  • North Arm Yandina Creek Road Stages 2 and 3 Upgrade, Yandina Creek* $800,000

Division 5:

  • Woombye Streetscape Placemaking, Blackall Street Woombye* $972,163
  • Brandenburg Road Seal Widening, Mooloolah Valley** $835,000
  • Warriors Football Club Palmwoods* $600,000
  • Brandenburg Road Gravel Road upgrade, Bald Knob $588,762
  • Glenview Road Upgrade Stage 5, Glenview $552,329
  • 47 additional infrastructure projects totalling more than $480,000
  • Design and construction of Obi Lane South on Road Carparking, Maleny $451,647
  • Palmwoods Cricket/AFL LED lighting upgrade** $450,000
  • Mary Cairncross Track Renewal, Maleny $400,000
  • Palmwoods Recreation Reserve Car Park, Palmwoods $400,000
  • Mary Cairncross Ecological Park, Maleny $300,000
  • Mossy Bank Road Gravel Road Upgrade, Eudlo $274,000
  • Perrins Road Gravel Road Upgrade, Eudlo $265,000
  • Consultation, planning and design of Maple Street Streetscape, Maleny $250,000
  • Chevallum Road Widening, Chevallum $250,000
  • Mary Cairncross Butterfly Walk, Maleny $230,000

Division 1:

  • Cribb Street Streetscape Project Stage 2 at Landsborough* $1,150,000
  • Design and construct Johnston Road Upgrade, Glass House Mountains $520,000
  • Landsborough Sports Lighting Design and Construction, Landsborough $350,000
  • QCWA Park Public Amenities Renewal, Landsborough $320,000
  • Glass House Mountains Regional Trail, Glass House Mountains $200,000
  • Katherine Street Beerwah – Pathway** $125,000
  • Turner Park Activation Stage 2, Beerwah* $100,000
  • Beerwah Sports Precinct Tennis Club Power Supply, Beerwah $90,000
  • Planning and design Commissioners Flat Road – Road Safety, Peachester $70,000
  • Design of Caloundra South Sports Clubhouse, Bells Creek $60,000
  • Design of Glasshouse Streetscape Refurbishment, Glass House Mountains $50,000
  • Stanley River Bushland Park Trail, Peachester $40,000
  • Mt Ngungun Trail Head Carpark, Glass House Mountains $30,000

*Funded by the Queensland Government in association with Sunshine Coast Council.

**Funded by the Federal Government in association with Sunshine Coast Council.

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