"A COMMUNITY is defined as society of people with common interests.

In the Queensland Plan, the question is asked “In the context of living in the community, how do we move our focus from me to we?”

The answer unreservedly to this question is by returning to communities with common interests and commonly held beliefs, where people enjoy a feeling of belonging and ownership.

On one page alone of the draft Plan, the word “community” is mentioned 26 times. 

The people living in the amalgamated council areas have lost their community identity, their representation, their feelings of belonging and ownership and therefore their sense of Community.

Therefore the council amalgamations must be undone, and soon, to give local government back to the communities.

Take care of the communities and you take care of the state and you therefore take care of the country.

It all starts with community."

Sue Johnson - QLGRA

RCSInc. - Communities share  personal, philosophical and lifestyle idealogy!  Family ethics! Ed.








Welcome to the first newsletter for 2014.  The big news this month is the candidature of Len Thomas in the Redcliffe by-election – due on Saturday 22 February 2014.  There is a bit more about Len Thomas on page 2.  The vice-president of QLGRA Colin Hewett is Len’s campaign manager.   Colin reported that Len is getting tremendous support from the locals in Redcliffe. No other candidate is hammering the major issues of de-amalgamation, Unity Water and the empty 24 Hour Super Clinic which has stood empty for 2 years. Len is hearing from everyone from members of the Nursing Union, older retired people, younger people at the markets, that neither of the major parties are listening to the people.  Colin reported that there is even interest from as afar as Victoria and NSW regarding the de-amalgamation platform. 

Colin reported that he is overwhelmed with the number of people coming forward to assist Len in his campaign – they even have their own cartoonist.  He is also greatly heartened by the news that a recent pollster asked residents who would they most likely vote for – ALP, LNP, Greens or Len Thomas! There are four ways to support Len:  Encourage Redcliffe relatives and friends to vote for Len Send monies to support Len’s campaign.

  1. Support Len on election day by handing out how to vote cards.  Contact Colin at  with details of your availability  and Colin can allocate you a time and place.  BBQ to be enjoyed afterwards
  2. Comments on Len’s facebook and web page are welcome.

Please do whatever you can to let your area know about Len and give him all your support.

Len in his own words:


  • I have been a Redcliffe Peninsula resident since 1979. My wife and I have raised six children and have 11 grandchildren and I was a Queensland Police Officer from 1983 to 2009. Positions held included Redcliffe District Crime Prevention Co-ordinator 1985-1991, Branch Manager Redcliffe Police-Citizens Youth Club 1991–1997 and Branch Manager Deception Bay PCYC 1997-2009.
  • retired from the Police Service in August 2009.
  • was the first Adopt-a-Cop in Redcliffe and I commenced the First Neighbourhood Watch in Queensland.
  • commenced the Prowlers Youth Nightclub at Redcliffe PCYC. I had the first, and largest, Youth Management Team in the State. 
  • developed the first Youth Café in Qld PCYC’s. The Café was awarded the Prince of Wales Trophy for best Youth Project of the Year by the Duke of Edinburgh Trust in 1996.
  •  jointly instigated the Pacific Islander Stakeholders Committee in the Redcliffe Police District.
  • was awarded the Centenary of Federation Medal for Community Service and PCYC Life membership in 2001  .
  • Upon retirement I was made an Honorary Samoan Chief by the President of AIGA Samoa Association North Brisbane Inc.

My previous occupations: Accountant with Westpac Bank, sales executive with AGC Corporate Finance and self-employed milk vendor. Since I retired in 2009, I have been even more involved in community organisations as a volunteer. Currently I am Chairman of Deception Bay PCYC, Secretary of Active 60 & Better and Treasurer of the Mousetrap Theatre Company. Other volunteer work I do includes Flexi-Ride driving of aged clients to medical and other appointments, assisting welfare needs at St Vincent de Paul and bus driving at PCYC. Prior to its closure in March, I was a volunteer bus driver for the Regional Community Association (RCAMB). My clients were members of the Older People's Action Program and, separately, Indigenous local residents who I transported to a medical clinic. Following the closure of the RCAMB, I used my own vehicle for some months to continue to transport my Indigenous clients. Together with other RCAMB members, I opposed action in the Supreme Court by Board members to have the RCAMB liquidated. My tertiary education qualification is Certificate IV in Community Services (Youth Work).


Primary goals:

I. To promote community acceptable natural Local Government boundaries that reflect locally held beliefs about community and identity, and provide local amenity and service;


II. Recognition in the State Constitution of Local Government as a legal entity with a clearly articulated role in governing, such that it can only be changed after a majority vote in a properly constituted referendum;


III. Retention and maintenance of reasonable levels of State and Federal Grants and Subsidies to support the necessary and important role of Local Government in providing and supporting rural and regional infrastructure serving not only local communities but also the state and the nation.


Strategic goals:

IV. To promote the benefits of effective, community based ‘local’ government throughout the general public and as an area of learning and study in tertiary institutions;


V. To share the commonality of our cause with all amalgamated shires and promote the sharing of strategy and resources to overcome barriers to de-amalgamation and boundary changes.Management Committee:


Chairman Bob Johnson,


07 4681 0871



Joanna Kesteven


 07 5463 5304


Vice Chair Colin Hewett Redcliffe

07 3283 7208


Treasurer Jack Muller,


07 4166 1497


Asst Secretary

Geoff McKay,  

The Hills

07 3351 7993


Membership Secretary Sue Johnson,


07 4681 0871


IT Officer Mary Rofe


07 4681 0805


Committee Members:

David Horner,


07 4125 1001


Joseph Monsour,


07 5463 5304


Rodney Hansen,


07 5498 6995


Chris Ellem,  


07 4626 5421






BANK DETAILS FOR LEN THOMAS Campaign account: L. V. Thomas. Suncorp Bank, BSB: 484 799
Account No. 45-332911-9


We have welcomed to the Management Committee Ken Park as Strategy Officer. This position was created to ensure the management committee keeps on track to achieve our goals.  All member groups were given the opportunity to vote and he was overwhelmingly endorsed.

Further feedback from member groups will be sought in the near future about strategies that we can all adopt to further the cause of boundary change and de-amalgamation. Please look out for this.


One of Ken Parks’ first activities in his new QLGRA role was to attend the ‘New Peak Downs De-amalgamation Group’ public meeting in Capella  held on Friday 14th February. This follows on the addresses to that group in Capella last September by President Bob and Membership Secretary Sue Johnson, and a recent request from Chairman Enid Bailey for a QLGRA speaker for this latest meeting. Ken is happy to assist Enid in guiding the group in their push to demerge from Central Highlands Regional Council.  He will be able to discuss the strategies of the QLGRA with the benefit of his experience as a Shire Engineer, Councillor, Deputy Mayor, Mayor and Chairman of a regional organisation of Councils, and his current knowledge of the Queensland Demerger Process  as Vice Chairman of the ‘Reclaim Caboolture Shire Inc.’



Mary Rofe, the IT Officer for QLGRA, has been busy keeping the website up to date. We would encourage all member groups to spread the web address amongst their networks so that the good content being generated for their benefit is reaching its target audience. Recent additions include:

Don’t hesitate to send your comments to the site – the more evidence we get of the difficulties caused by inappropriate council boundaries the stronger our case. 


Around the Ridges – experiences of amalgamations

Mary from Stanthorpe reports that her amalgamated council has finally started to complain about the imposition of the State imposed Emergency Service Levy. This levy, which many of our country readers will be aware of, was imposed last budget by the Newman government on country people. It is not clear how the levy will be spent and whether or not it is just another money grab, and a ‘cost shifting’ exercise by State Government.

Mary reports the Southern Downs Regional council only started complaining once it received numerous letters from its' ratepayers and not a word was said before. Raises the question "How representative are the councils, given they take so long to speak on their residents behalf?"


Next edition – the story of the Surat Airstrip.



State Elections

The Queensland state elections will be held sometime in the next 15 months so it is appropriate to start focussing now on what your group intends to do to ensure that Demerger or Boundary Change or other means to re-empower our communities (more representation and a return to reasonable grants and subsidies for essential works) are on your and the candidates’ agendas. Our preliminary QLGRA strategies are in the early stages and will be further developed in the short term with your assistance. We cannot get these changes unless we have politicians and political parties that want it too. 

Len Thomas is a classic example of what we need in a candidate and we wish him every success.

Our strategies for the next Local government elections (March 2016) are on the drawing board, so you will be hearing more about that over the coming year. QLGRA have put a submission to the Minister on changes to the Local Government Electoral Act to improve the way future LG elections are held and run. You can view this submission on the website later.


Commission of Review


We are still pursuing the need for a Commission of Review into the amalgamations and the de-merger process because the strong evidence is that the amalgamated councils are getting further into serious debt while services and access to councils decline.



Colin Hewitt has informed us that there are two (latish?) nominations for the by-election in Redcliffe, a Family First candidate and an Independent, both of whom have indicated they will direct  second preferences to one of the major parties. They nominated shortly before nominations closed at noon on Thursday 13th Feb., yet pre-poll and postal voting commenced at start of business that day. Ask yourselves “How can nominations be accepted, rolls be closed and voting papers issued after the voting has started? Isn’t it unusual for the two late candidates to both preference one of the major parties, and Are nominations normal after voting starts and so close to election day?” 

Bob Johnson,  spokesperson for the newly formed Queensland Local Government Reform Alliance, said today the LNP Government must recognise its failure to allow local communities a voice. He requested that the LNP “get back on track” by allowing local communities redress through referenda.
The formation of the Alliance followed the successful Queensland Local Government Reform forum held in Stanthorpe in February. The Alliance calls upon the LNP Government, whose members previously opposed the forced amalgamations, to carry out their pledge to put local government back on track. They should give communities a voice through referenda.

“The government” Mr Johnson said “put a process in place that denied Queenslanders natural justice. It disallowed many former council areas a chance to re-establish their local communities. Only four were allowed to de-merge, despite 19 having applied. Many more would have applied had the process been fair. On the evidence there appears to be a serious breach of natural justice.”   
Speaking about the new group Mr Johnson said:  “The new Alliance, open to all local community groups, will advocate at state level until the Beattie government’s failed amalgamation process is properly addressed, and local councils wanting demerger are restored. All communities are suffering under high rates / low service regimes, increasing council debt levels, lost council representation and loss of sense of community.”  

“All evidence proves beyond doubt that BIGGER IS NOT BETTER and will never be, when applied to local councils. The amalgamation process was supposed to reduce the burden for communities. The reverse is true. Amalgamation was supposed to enable councils to better deal with costs associated with natural disasters. Yet 16 councils including 4 very big ones are now in trouble. Whitsunday Council has sought special assistance to overcome a consequent serious cash flow problem.”
“The promised savings did not eventuate. The burden of amalgamation and the dis-economies of scale from centralisation continue to plague communities. Did we not learn from the Soviet bloc that centralisation of decision making does not work?  Please allow us to decentralise or demerge.”

The Alliance is gaining momentum in Qld and there is interest in NSW. It will campaign for all council areas requesting it, to have a referendum to re-draw local government boundaries to restore and re-empower communities. For more information contact Secretary J. Kesteven on (07)5463 5304 or Chairman Bob Johnson on 0432 950 645. And see the e-petition on the Queensland Parliamentary link  (The Queensland Local Government Reform Alliance website will be released in the next few weeks).

Bob Johnson, C.Eng.
Stanthorpe 4380.
(07) 4681 0871





Welcome to our third newsletter.

 Two big events this month – a well attended forum at Caboolture and the presentation of the petition to Lawrence Springborg. Here are the reports – some reading for you but we hope you find it informative.


The Reclaim Caboolture Shire (RCS) group organised the Caboolture Local Government Forum where both the academic and anecdotal evidence Does not stop rolling in that the amalgamations have been a massive failure.

Speakers included:

Chairs of Reclaim Caboolture Shire iNC. (RCS), Basil Jeffreys, the Redcliffe Ratepayers Action Group Dr Colin Hewitt and the QLGRA Bob Johnson, also spoke about the aims of their organisations and progress so far.

Basil explained that RCS wanted to ‘right the wrong’ that is amalgamation without consultation which has impacted ratepayers negatively (rates have doubled and in Victoria, trebled). As well, amalgamation is associated with greed and waste. Some may argue that it is difficult to ‘unscramble the egg’ due to the costs associated with de-amalgamation but the alternative means increasing the current difficulties.

Remember: It is very easy to slice up an Omelette.

Colin outlined the difficulties faced by Redcliffe especially noting the activities of their local MP.

Bob gave a brief review of events leading to the formation of QLGRA; its goal of ‘people power’, its growth in membership since March with 21 former shires now represented; a parliamentary petition seeking redress on this issue; that strength in numbers is likely to outweigh those seeking re-dress on an individual council basis.

In a speech entitled "Council Amalgamations: A road to nowhere

Dr Michael Kortt from Southern Cross University reported that in collaboration with colleagues from the University of New England their latest research on Queensland councils found that compulsory mergers increased proportion of councils with diseconomies of scale to 84%. He also drew attention to a Price Waterhouse Cooper Review completed in 2006 which showed that the amalgamations in other states such as Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and New South Wales and (at that time) the non-merged QLD & WA councils had no differences in financial viability. It would appear then logically that since the amalgamations in Queensland have worsened the circumstances of our Councils. Interestingly he noted that the proponents of amalgamations no longer refer to cost savings but now promote the ‘Enhanced Capacity’ of the amalgamated councils. Enhanced capacity is obviously the new political speak for increasing rates, reduced services, increased borrowings and centralised bureaucracy. 

There are five more pages available on request from:


IV. To promote the benefits of effective, community based ‘local’ government throughout the general public and as an area of learning and study in tertiary institutions;

V. To share the commonality of our cause with all amalgamated shires and promote the sharing of strategy and resources to overcome barriers to de-amalgamation and boundary changes.