7 February 2013
A survey by the University of the Sunshine Coast has shown that while most Noosa residents have already made up their minds on the issue of de-amalgamation, many are still seeking details about the pros and cons of breaking away from the Sunshine Coast Council.
University researchers contacted about 400 Noosa residents over the past two weeks, asking them a series of questions about what they believe are the most important issues in the upcoming poll about de-amalgamation on 9 March.
USC’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Engagement Professor Mike Hefferan has today announced the results of the survey, which can be downloaded in full from the USC website.
Professor Hefferan said the survey did not ask voting intentions but rather sought to establish if respondents had made up their minds about the issue yet and if they believed they had received sufficient information on which to base their decisions.
“The survey showed 78% of respondents had already made up their minds on which way they will vote, and a vast majority of those reported that they were quite firm in that opinion,” he said.
The survey showed that the top four issues for Noosa residents were: governance, which includes local representation and quality of services provided (35%); costs (20%); community pride and identity (12%); and environment (11%).
Costs included the short-term costs of de-amalgamation and the long-term potential loss of economies of scale for a small shire. Environmental issues not only identified the preservation of the natural surrounds but also development controls needed to truly reflect Noosa’s character.
Professor Hefferan said about 38% of those surveyed stated they would like to receive more information about de-amalgamation in order to make an informed judgement.
“This provides a strong message for those advocating either side of the argument,” he said. “Clearly, a significant number of voters in Noosa are still seeking answers. This survey identifies the issues of greatest interest.”
Professor Hefferan said those surveyed included a wide cross-section of the community, including residents from all areas within the former Noosa Shire Council boundaries. About 74% of respondents had lived in the region for more than 10 years.“It was interesting to note that respondents generally were not reactive to the original forced amalgamation in 2008,” he said. “Rather issues appeared to focus on present-day concerns and future prospects.”
Professor Hefferan said USC decided to conduct this research because the issue of de-amalgamation was such an important matter for the region.
“One of the roles of a regional university is to advance public debate and independently present evidence-based research,” he said.
— Terry Walsh