ENGAGED: Emeritus Professor Mike Hefferan is lending his expertise to the argument of de-amalgamation.
ENGAGED: Emeritus Professor Mike Hefferan is lending his expertise to the argument of de-amalgamation. Contributed

Granite Belt tip: 'Get your finances in order'

A LEADING professor with experience in de-amalgamation battles says the Granite Belt stands a chance if it plays its cards right.

Not only has Emeritus Professor Mike Hefferan witnessed first-hand what happened during Noosa's wrangle with de-merging, he's worked as director-general of the Queensland Department of State Development, consults with governments here and abroad, co-edited the Australian Journal of Regional Studies, and also happens to be a Southern Downs ratepayer.

He spends half his life in Stanthorpe, the other half on the Sunshine Coast as pro-vice chancellor at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

He was engaged during Noosa's fight, before they were eventually granted separation from Sunshine Coast Regional Council.

"Noosa I didn't think would ever happen yet the thing that pushed it home is there was no community of interest at Noosa, while it might be close to Caloundra, they may as well be on Mars - they're a different place,” he said.

"At the end of the day, whatever happens, Stanthorpe's got to deal with Warwick. They're not going away and nor is this group (Granite Belt Community Association).

"I think over time, if they play it right, it'll happen. I saw it happen at Noosa.”

Prof Hefferan, who has been advising the Granite Belt Community Association, says if it happens and if it's ever to work, radical methods may need to be implemented.

"There were always crap arguments about how it would be too expensive, and the way they make it sound too expensive is they add the transfer of assets which already exists, also the movement of loan funds,” he said.

"You've got to convince the Department of Premier and Cabinet, and particularly Treasury, you've got to have that right. I spent my whole life with Treasury at pre-senior level and they've got this wonderful saying that 'is it cost neutral?'

"If it's cost neutral you can go on and invade Tenterfield, they couldn't care less, but if it costs them something they're gone. You've got to have a really robust case.

"If this place wants to go it alone it's got to do some really innovative things with its budget.

"Everyone from the mayor through... nobody knows (what it's going to cost). It has to be robustly done and analytically, independently done.

"A de-amalgamation like this seems to make sense to me but you've got to do your finances right. But it might seem if you're 10 years on, you've got petitions, public rallies then guys (council) you've got a problem. The community is rumbling out here.”

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