Boundary change submissions questioned

BIRKDALE residents are questioning the reasoning behind 10 submissions to the Local Government Electoral Change Commission pushing for adjustments to Division 9 and 10 boundaries.

This month, the commission released details of new boundaries for all Redland city's 10 electorates ahead of the March 19 election.

The submissions, from 10 supporters of Redland Mayor Karen Williams, asked the commission to adjust the city's boundaries to move three blocks of development land from Division 10 to Division 9.

The change  moves the Division 10 boundary north so two lots of federal land on Birkdale Road and the 153-year-old Williards Farms are incorporated in Division 9.

Under the adjustments, Division 9 will gain land north of Daveson Road at Birkdale, to take in the Howeston Golf Course, and the 80hectares of federal government land.

During the consultation period, 10 submissions, all very similar in wording, were made to the commission calling for Division 9 to include the federal land and adjoining Willards Farm.

The submissions were from councillors Kim-Maree Hardman, Mark Edwards, Paul Gleeson and Julie Talty and her husband John. 

Nick Turnbull, Don McAlpine, Nick McAlpine, former Capalaba MP Steve Davies and his former staff officer Lachlan Crane also called for the boundary adjustment.

The tinkering will only affect five voters, going into division 9.

Cr Williams denied orchestrating the submissions and said she did not make a submission.

She said the final decision on boundary changes was made by solely by the Local Government Change Commission with no input from council.

Many ideas for changing divisional boundaries were made during a three-week consultation period in May.

But there was no plan for redrawing the Division 9-10 boundary around the federal government land when the commission put forward its proposals and called for objections in September.

Council expressed interest in buying the two parcels of federal land in January with proposals ranging from a university to a sports centre or civic centre.

Division 10 councillor Paul Bishop said it was strange that 10 different individuals joined forces to make submissions to the commision to move the boundary.

"Curiously, it all seemingly occurred after public consultation, yet did not involve discussion with either the divisional councillor or the local community concerned," he said.

"To suggest the change was proposed to ensure fair distribution of voters is incorrect, as only five residences are involved.

"It appears the change is really about shifting these blocks of valuable land away from one councillor, who has activated people's interest in the site, to the jurisdiction of another division. 

"This may well undermine recent community momentum regarding the tremendous amount of cultural heritage that exists within the precinct."

Division 1 councillor Wendy Boglary said she had grave concerns about the political motivation behind the 10 submissions for the Birkdale Road site.

Cr Boglary said she was upfront and posted on Facebook her intentions to alert affected residents.

"Mayor Karen Williams should give clarification on reasoning since a submission relating to the  Birkdale land  came from her office even though it was signed by councillor Julie Talty," Cr Boglary said.

"It is disappointing to see communities divided for reasons unknown.

“The mayor hasn’t explained her motives for the submissions which were done secretly without even telling the divisional councillor.”

Cr Williams said the commission made the final determination, not council, to cater for future demographic trends.

She said councillors were advised and entitled to make submissions and claimed Cr Boglary had sent out letters to 500 people.

"More than half of the 78 submissions opposing changes to Wellington Point can be linked to a proforma letter with obvious links to the councillor," Cr Williams said.

"I challenge her to be up front and declare her involvement in reversing the proposed changes, and to explain how this is any different to the issue she is trying to beat up regarding the Birkdale land. 

"Clearly some councillors were unable to have a mature debate about divisional boundaries and so it was resolved not to make a formal council submission."

Cr Boglary said there was no need for a challenge as her letterbox drop was upfront and accountable to advise affected residents while the 10 submissions under question were proposing new changes with no consultation or right of reply.

Cr Williams said the Division 9 boundary was extended to include the Commonwealth land because the area would connect open space from Capalaba to the Tingalpa Creek boundary.

In line with the Local Government Act, the city's 99,635 voters have to be equally spread across the 10 divisions, plus or minus 10 per cent.

The commission said the new boundaries were drawn up after public consultation,taking into consideration submissions.