Dr Kelso making mischief.
Dr Kelso making mischief.

Dr Kelso attacks report Rolfe report ‘not valid’

A FORMER CQUniversity professor has criticised a report commissioned by Capricorn Enterprise that forecasts dire economic consequences for the region should de-amalgamation go ahead.

Dr Robert Kelso, who also worked as a policy officer for state and federal governments, said the report by Professor John Rolfe from CQUniversity could not be relied on as a valid argument against a split.

The Cooee Bay resident said it was not an independent report because it was funded by Capricorn Enterprise, which receives about $700,000, or one third, of its revenue from Rockhampton Regional Council.

Dr Kelso claimed the regional tourism organisation would have stipulated that it wanted a report opposing de-amalgamation.

Capricorn Enterprise chairman Grant Cassidy said the accusation was an insult to the board, which was made of volunteers from across the region.

Mr Cassidy said the state's Boundaries Commissioner and Queensland Treasury Corporation had already highlighted the financially damaging effect a split could have already.

He described Dr Kelso's comments as "mischief-making" and said his criticism was part of the negative vibe the de-amalgamation debate had taken on.

Mr Cassidy also queried whether Dr Kelso's opinion could be independent as it was put forward in a media release by Cr Bill Ludwig.

"We want what's right for the future of the region," Mr Cassidy said.

"As one united region under Capricorn, we tick every box from beaches, islands and reef to national parks, vibrant coastal communities to the service and industrial precincts, large retail precincts, education, major transport, international standard airport, hospitals and administration by a central local government structure."

Prof Rolfe stated in his report that de-amalgamation would be costly and there was little evidence that the Capricorn Coast and Rockhampton were different.

A statement Dr Kelso vehemently opposed.

In fact, it is the main reason that Dr Kelso said he would be voting yes for de-amalgamation at the March 9 referendum.

"Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast are distinctively different communities," he said.

"Both require different strategies to optimise their continued economic growth and social development. The competing needs of Rockhampton city versus the needs of the growing coastal urban centres and rural areas have resulted in the amalgamated council diverting strategic resources and development opportunities away from the coast."

But Dr Kelso said the critical issue for him was that the community was not given an opportunity to have its say before amalgamation occurred.

"Dr Rolfe's suggestion the amalgamated council can better deliver increased efficiencies, alignment of services, strategic planning and development, and find it easier to leverage funding are not borne out by the experience of the past five years."

Mr Cassidy argued that de-amalgamation would not solve any problems, but it would waste money that could be funnelled into furthering the region's economy. The Morning Bulletin tried to contact Prof Rolfe, but he was unavailable.

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