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Divisions divide community opinion

HOW do you feel about the Bundaberg region being broken up into divisions?

A recent Customer Satisfaction Survey conducted on behalf of the Bundaberg Regional Council found the community was split with its view on divisions.

Of the 500 people surveyed, 57% wanted to continue voting for the one councillor for their division.

The additional 39% wanted the opportunity to have no divisions and vote on ten councillors across the whole Bundaberg region.

The Bundaberg Regional Council is one of 21 councils to have adopted divisions; the other 55 Queensland councils remain undivided.

Deputy Mayor David Batt said divisions were established within the Bundaberg Regional Council when the council amalgamated in 2008.

But just 185km north of Bundaberg is Gladstone Regional Council with no divisions. Gladstone mayor Gail Sellers believed no divisions "works a lot better".

"I believe the governance side of it is so much better because each individual at the table makes decisions with the whole of the region in mind," Cr Sellers said.

She believed divisions resulted in councillors looking firstly at their own division.

"Or they're trying to keep their seat and trying to make certain that their area gets more," Cr Sellers said.

"But when you make a decision, you have to look across the region and make the best decision for the whole of the region."

Fraser Coast Regional Council has divisions like Bundaberg but mayor Gerard O'Connell said he saw both sides of the division argument.

"I think divisions are working well, but I have a personal view that is a little different," Cr O'Connell said.

Cr O'Connell felt, as a voter, he'd like to be able to vote for all 10 councillors, and then see them allocated to divisions only after being elected by the community.

"I'd like a chance to vote for ten councillors, as opposed to one," he said.

"After election you'd say councillor A goes to division one etcetera.

"I think the advantage there is then people in the geographical areas do have a geographical councillor to call on, but their electoral fortune is not conditional on what they deliver to the division," Cr O'Connell said.

Cr Batt said the Bundaberg Regional Council had "not formally discussed" changing from divisional representation to non-divisional representation and said the decision did not rest with the council.

"Council has an option to request the Local Government Minister to conduct a review of divisions versus non divisions for the 2016 election," Cr Batt said.

"Ultimately the decision to change is made by the Minister, not council."

Cr Batt said the council would only request a review if the majority of the community wanted to rid divisions.



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