Qld name changes bring frustration and relief

By Rachel Borchardt

It is hard enough being at the helm of a council through a challenging amalgamation process.

But having the State Government step in to name their new merged local government bodies was too much for two of Queensland’s largest rural councils.

More than a year after widescale amalgamations in Queensland, Roma Regional Council has become Maranoa Regional Council and Dalby Regional Council is about to rebrand as Western Downs Regional Council.

“There was a lot of residual anger from the amalgamation process … which was directed at the [State] Government because they gave us our name,” said Maranoa mayor Robert Loughnan. “It’s a bit like naming someone else’s baby for them.”

Since the Queensland Government enforced amalgamations in March 2008, those in the Maranoa region in the state’s south west felt that their new name of Roma Regional Council did not reflect the towns it encompassed.

The council was formed from the merger of Roma Town Council and Bungil, Bendemere, Warroo and Booringa shire councils.

A regional survey pointed to the need for a name change.

“We did a survey of the whole region and we got a very impressive response rate of more than 4000 responses. Of those, 74.2 per cent supported the change to Maranoa,” said Loughnan.

While pleased by the official launch of the new name on June 30, he said a 10-month process to have it changed was frustrating.

“In my view it’s taken too long … I do think the Government sat on their hands on this,” he said.

“All our branding, our whole identity and the way we market our council has been held up because of this.”

Meanwhile, Western Downs Regional Council, formerly Dalby Regional Council, has also adopted its new name following a community vote that revealed almost 80 per cent of the population wanted a change. A workshop was held to determine the most suitable name.

The council was formed in March 2008 through the amalgamation of Dalby Town with the shires of Wambo, Chinchilla, Murilla, Tara and Taroom (division 2).

Mayor Ray Brown said it would be rolling out new branding on August 12.

“We didn’t want it to come out in dribs and drabs so on that launch we will have a celebration at all our service centres and our signage and our branding across the board will change.”

Together with the 700-odd staff at Western Downs Regional Council, the community would also have an opportunity to celebrate, said Brown.

“Our community have been waiting for this a long time and it’s a great opportunity to launch Western Downs Regional Council and to bury the name of Dalby Regional Council.”

Brown said it would be an opportunity to prepare for the future of the region.

“When you amalgamate five-and-a-half shires there’s always a tendency to live in the past and dwell and say ‘well the previous shire did this and that’.

"This is the opportunity to say here is a new name, we are moving forward in a positive way for our future and for our communities.”

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