Birkdale council boundary may be moved back after controversial 2015 local government decision

PROPOSED: The Local Government Change Commission has proposed changes to the boundaries of the Redland City Council's divisions.

PROPOSED: The Local Government Change Commission has proposed changes to the boundaries of the Redland City Council's divisions.

THE state government proposes to reverse a controversial 2015 decision which saw 80 hectares of Birkdale Commonwealth land and Williards Farm moved between council divisions.

The state government called for submissions on council divisional boundaries earlier this year after finding the number of enrolled voters was too high in two divisions due to growth at Thornlands and Mount Cotton.

In response to submissions, the Local Government Change Commission has proposed returning the Birkdale Commonwealth land, Willards farm and Howeston Golf Course to division 10.

The blocks had been part of division 10 councillor Paul Bishop's area but were moved into that of Cr Paul Gleeson. Cr Bishop said at the time, that he had engendered substantial community interest in the land, only to see it moved to another division which undermined community momentum.

The 2015 redistribution saw 10 similarly worded submissions supporting the move which led to mayor Karen Williams being accused of orchestrating the tactic. She denied this was the case.

A review published by the commission today said that 17 submissions - including from five councillors - were received.

"A common theme to emerge from the suggestions was the desire for the Birkdale Commonwealth lands and Howeston Golf Course to be returned to division 10, where it was located prior to the 2015 boundary review," the report said.

The commission supported a suggestion by Cr Julie Talty to transfer Sheldon and part of Thornlands to division 9 and part of Victoria Point to divisions 3 and 4.

The commission said one submission asked for the Southern Moreton Bay Islands to have their own councillor.

"This was unable to be implemented as there are insufficient numbers of enrolled voters on the islands to meet the legislated quota, even if North Stradbroke Island was included," the commission said.

The entire Ormiston suburb is proposed to be contained in division 1, instead of being split across two divisions. To accommodate that change part of Wellington Point would be moved into division 8.

The commission said that it had to ensure each division had a reasonable proportion of enrolled voters. This quota took into account the projected voter numbers.

The commission said the enrolment in January was 108,407, while 115,889 voters were projected in March 2024.

Cr Williams said she hoped the Electoral Commission of Queensland communicated final changes accurately and effectively.

"Before the last election, the ECQ issued letters to Redland City voters with the wrong division listed, causing a great deal of confusion," she said.

"Communication this time around will be even more important with the state government also introducing changes to how people vote, including compulsory preferential voting."

Division 7's Cr Murray Elliott said the Electoral Commission of Queensland had listened to suggestions and the need to adjust the boundaries of divisions 3, 4 and 9 to reduce growth in division 6, in particular.

"The return of the area north of Jones Road Capalaba to division 10 is another good example," Cr Elliott said. "Division 7 has faired well with only a small loss in the southern area of the division with a corresponding increase into the Cleveland/Thornlands residential area along with the capture of the Cleveland industrial estate."

Cr Talty said she would feel a loss at Sheldon being removed from division 6 as she had been the representative for seven years. "However, I appreciate that Cr Gleeson in division 9 was raised in a rural area very similar to Sheldon and will have that community's best interests covered," she said.

"I will be making a submission to the commission requesting some tweaking to gain the best outcomes for matching like communities and I encourage residents to look at the changes and do the same."

Cr Bishop said that it seemed the commissioner had been guided by commonsense and citizen concerns.

He said residents should express their views about the proposed changes by sending a submission.

"I have always fought to have people respect the unique heritage, environmental and cultural values relating to this site and will continue to do so," he said.

"I also respect the appropriately expressed wishes of the five impacted residents at Howeston Golf Course, who say they would prefer to return to division 10.

"In my opinion, no change should be based on assumptions about elected persons or political agendas, this should be about the best interest of the city and its citizens being respected by their representatives."

The proposals are up for comment until 5pm on September 9.

They can be lodged online via ecq.qld.gov.au/lgr/redland or email lgccsubmissions@ecq.qld.gov.au.

The commission will make a final determination after reviewing public comments.