Regional councils call for balance

BRIGHTON Council has joined a group of regional Tasmanian Councils to demand greater consideration from State and Federal Governments and more balanced outcomes from resource security decisions.

The Central Highlands, Derwent Valley, Tasman, Circular Head, Dorset, Glamorgan-Spring Bay, Brighton, Southern Midlands and Huon Valley Councils, West Coast and Northern Midlands will campaign for their communities to be given greater consideration and for Councils and communities to be involved in decisions that impact directly on them and the economies of their regions. Other Councils have been consulted and are expected to join the campaign.

Brighton Mayor Tony Foster said the 11 Councils were concerned at recent decisions, particularly related to the forest industry, but also regarding fishing and mining and their impact on regional communities.

Mayor Foster said although there were no forests in Brighton, a number of Brighton businesses were reliant of forestry and other resource industries and these industries generated significant employment in the municipality.

“For these reasons, we believe it important that we join with our fellow Councils to demand that our communities are considered and consulted when State and Federal Governments are making decisions on resource security,” Cr Foster said.

Spokesman for the 11 Councils, Dorset Mayor Barry Jarvis said the Councils believed that local government, and particularly regional communities, had been excluded from negotiations, decision-making and even any consideration.

“The impact on regional communities is being lost while Federal and State Government’s engage in power politics,” Mayor Jarvis said.

“This was particularly apparent during the Intergovernmental Agreement on Tasmanian Forestry (IGA) and the subsequent now stalled negotiations, and the State Government’s proposed split of Forestry Tasmania.

“Like farmers and particularly those whose lands include private forests, a vital sector excluded from all negotiations and seemingly all Federal and State Government consideration, is Tasmania’s regional communities and their representative Councils.

“Councils are the level of government closest and most responsive to their communities. Yet they have not been consulted or included in any discussions, negotiations or decision-making!”

Mayor Foster said the Councils were acting in the interests of their communities and particularly wanted a more balanced outcome from the IGA negotiations and the re-organisation of Forestry Tasmania.

“We are also concerned that the forces that oppose forestry and fishing are now so emboldened by their success that they will step up their attacks on mining, agriculture and aquaculture to the detriment of Tasmania, its economy and people.

“The Councils have agreed on a comprehensive community awareness campaign and this will run initially over the next three months,” Cr Foster said.