The Granite Belt Community Association realised that they did not have the expertise to tackle the De-amalgamation Business Case on their own. It was imperative to gather experience people to take charge of this next step – the preparation of the Business Case and Financial Analysis. As fate would have it – Mike Hefferan walked down the main street of Stanthorpe, walked up to our volunteers collecting signatures on a petition and offered his services.
We are very fortunate to have Mike advising us through this process. He brings with him over 35 years of related state, national and international experience in these areas – both as a senior executive in government and as a university Pro-Vice Chancellor.
The next person to join our team was Professor Tim Coelli. Tim has been living on the Granite Belt since 2007 with his wife and family and established a family business, Twisted Gums Wine. Prior to this he was an academic for 20 years as an economist and a statistician and most recently Professor of Economics at UQ – where he still retains the title of Adjunct Professor.
A number of other experienced community members also joined the Project Steering Committee and Sub-Committees.
It was with great pleasure that we were able to announce that Lawrence Springborg agreed to Chair the Project Steering Committee. Lawrence’s experience in the government and understanding of legislation is outstanding, together with his knowledge of our region his input will be extremely valuable.
Our committee structure is:
The proving up of the Business Case and Financial Analysis to the satisfaction of all (and particularly of Queensland Treasury) will require sound evidence, very intense analysis and the preparation of a wide range of quality submissions. Even then, there is no guarantee of success – that is up to government – but we have practically no chance if the business case and financials are not evidence based and robust. To ensure that we present the best case the association has decided to engage a consultant to put together the financial analysis. We received a number of recommendations from the Government for suitably qualified consultants and will be engaging one shortly.
To be able to do this however, we will need to raise funds to pay for the consultant and others in the preparation of our proposal. The total cost is expected to be in the vicinity of $80 000.00.
We are seeking financial support from the community for this important endeavour. Donations of any size are most welcome and can be provided on a confidential basis if required. We will contact as many residents as possible regrading donations but, in any case, contributions can be made direct to a special bank account:
Account: Granite Belt De-amalgamation
BSB: 633 000
or via our GoFundMe account.
The association has put in place a strict financial management arrangement for the De-amalgamation fund raising. GRANITE BELT DE-AMALGAMATION FINANCES
We are working hard to make sure that we put together the best possible case and early analysis appears quite positive but much more work is necessary to prove the case to the government. We are not only accepting of the need for that evidence base but would insist on it – this should only proceed if the financial case is sound, the majority of residents agrees and critically important, that a better and more prosperous community resulted for the Granite Belt and Southern Downs.
ANOTHER STEP FORWARD ON THE DE-AMALGAMATION INITIATIVE
The Granite Belt Community Association is pleased to announce that we have engaged the services of Orion Consulting Network, represented by Mr David Spearritt to assist us with the preparation of the business case and financial feasibility of de-amalgamation. Mr Spearritt has over 40 years of experience in Local Government, including 15 years as a Senior Executive in the Brisbane City Council, 6 years as a Deputy Local Government Commissioner & Director of Financial Review and more recently 22 years as a highly regarded independent consultant on Local Government matters.
He has provided professional advice to 33 of the 77 local councils in Queensland, including the Southern Downs, Goondiwindi, Scenic Rim and Toowoomba Regional Councils. He has extensive experience on boundary change reviews and proposals, including the provision of key financial advice in the successful de-amalgamation reviews involving Noosa, Mareeba and Livingstone Councils.
“Mr Spearritt is highly regarded throughout Local Government in Queensland and was at the very top of our list of preferred consultants. We are absolutely thrilled to have secured the services of a consultant of this calibre,” said President, Rev Alan Colyer. “He has a Bachelor of Commerce and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Queensland. His skills and experience will be invaluable in assisting the GBCA to produce a sound and robust Financial Analysis and Business Case for the De-amalgamation Proposal.” Click here for full Media Release
COMMUNITY SENTIMENT QUESTIONNAIRE
To ensure that the Business Case for the proposed de-amalgamation to be presented to the State Government is evidence based, the Granite Belt Community Association have engaged Endure Data Sciences to conduct a community sentiment questionnaire. Terry or Aaron from Endure Data Sciences (EDS) may contact you as a select group of participants in order to provide independent feedback and gauging community sentiment on the proposed de-amalgamation. All participants are to be selected by EDS and their identities will be kept confidential. The responses will only be presented to us in the form of an aggregated report.
We thank you in advance for your assistance.
DE–AMALGAMATION INVESTIGATION WELL UNDERWAY
Work has been progressing well on the Granite Belt Community Association investigation into the potential de-amalgamation of the Granite Belt from the Southern Downs Regional Council.
A community sentiment questionnaire was commissioned by the Association and has now been completed by an independent analyst, who observed that many respondents believed a de-amalgamated council would offer a greater ‘back to basics’ service delivery, reduce unnecessary overheads, and that residents would look forward to a local council that would work more closely with business groups and the community to provide innovative leadership to promote the special characteristics of each region.
There was also considerable support for the notion that a successful de-amalgamation is critical for each of the communities and their future economic and social prosperity. The questionnaire results also supported the view that the uniqueness of both the Granite Belt and Southern Downs regions needs to be retained, and that good local representative leadership is essential and sound financial management for both regions is imperative.
In addition to this questionnaire, the major financial analysis of the proposed council de-amalgamation, being conducted by Mr David Spearritt of Orion Consulting Network, is also well underway. Professor Tim Coelli has been in regular contact with the consultant and is impressed by the large amount of work being completed. Observing that “the consultant is not just carefully dividing up current SDRC costs and revenues and assets into the two different sub-regions, but is also collecting benchmarking data from other well performing councils of similar sizes to investigate a range of possible ‘best practice’ activities for the two new councils. The aim of the analysis is to establish that both new councils – Southern Downs and Granite Belt – can be both financially viable and sustainable going forward.”
“The consultant has also been studying detailed tables of past examples of de-amalgamation costs in Queensland, which show that the actual costs of de-amalgamation were well below the costs estimated by Treasury prior to these de-amalgamations. This is very valuable information.”
Professor Coelli notes that “The financial analysis is very much preliminary at this stage, but so far the numbers are looking respectable. But one must also keep in mind that the report that the Association sends to the Minister is only the first stage of the process. If the Minister believes that we have made a reasonable case he will then refer the matter on to the Change Commission for them to do an additional detailed investigation, most likely with the assistance of the Queensland Treasury Corporation. There are clearly many checks and balances to be navigated before the Minister would be willing to make his final recommendation and a plebiscite can be organised for the community to then make the final decision.”
On Monday, 10 December members of the association traveled to Brisbane to deliver the proposal for “A New Granite Belt Council” to Minister Hinchliffe. The Minister received the report and now we need to wait patiently while the Government reviews our case and the financials.
At the meeting it was resolved by association that we would not release the entire report until the Minister has a chance to review it. We have however been able to release a summary. A New Granite Belt Council – Summary 11-12-2018
Once the Minister and his office have had the chance to review the submission, the association will release the entire document for public viewing on the website.
On behalf of the association and the Granite Belt Community we would like to thank Minister Hinchliffe and his office for their guidance throughout the year. It has been a pleasure to work on this proposal and to witness how the Legislation and Government processes work and the ability of the community to put forward this submission.