Councils split on amalgamation bid

By FRAZER PEARCE ? EMOTIONS should not be allowed to cloud the logic of investigating the benefits of local government amalgamations in Central Queensland, a deputy mayor said yesterday.

Rockhampton Deputy Mayor Jim Webber said Livingstone and Fitzroy shires had taken a strong stance against amalgamation but they needed to be more opened minded on the issue.

He said "emotional'' talk about retaining shire identity had to be left out of the argument.

"We are very over-governed in this country,'' he said. "We need to look at ways of being more effective.''

He said spiralling residential rates were a big concern and the bottom line was finding the best deal for ratepayers and that might mean amalgamation.

"I think rates are pricing people out of their own homes,'' he said.

He wants the amalgamation of Rockhampton City, Mount Morgan, Livingstone and Fitzroy shires to be investigated, but this would only happen if the other authorities were willing.

Just last week Fitzroy Mayor John Hopkins said the shire needed to ensure amalgamation did not happen.

He said Fitzroy Shire would lose its voice if it were to merge with Rockhampton.

"We need to maintain our own identity,'' he said.

Livingstone Mayor Bill Ludwig this week said Livingstone Shire was growing quickly and he was not keen on seeing it become part of a "greater Rockhampton''.

"The Capricorn Coast will be a city in its own right,'' he said.

"We have the population growth.''

He said he was happy to work with Rockhampton on major service issues such as water, sewerage and waste management for the benefit of rate payers.

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