Forced council amalgamations in NSW repudiated

By Paul Hemsley

New South Wales Minister for Local Government Don Page has strenuously denied that the O’Farrell government is covertly conspiring to ram through amalgamations, vowing that the government will stick to its promise of not forcing council mergers.

The pledge to not force amalgamations on NSW councils was a core promise from the Coalition prior to the March 2011 state election, however the government has since December 2012 been overtly flirting with ways to achieve efficiencies and rationalisation in the tabloid press.

It was reported in December 2012 that the O’Farrell government would break that its election promise by forcing amalgamations, a position now repudiated by Mr Page.

In the face of the “buzz” among mayors that Mr Page did not name, he slammed the “numerous claims” of a potential forced council merge in NSW as “erroneous” and “unwarranted”.

“I note that a number of mayors are unnecessarily alarming councillors, workers and ratepayers with claims the government is secretly plotting forced council amalgamations,” Mr Page said.

“While I welcome mayors coming together, their time could be better spent striving to improve services to their respective communities and ensuring the financial sustainability of their local government areas rather than scaremongering about bogus claims of forced amalgamations”.

Mr Page noted that some councils are spending large sums of ratepayer’s fund “battling” forced amalgamations that he claims are not going to happen and that some mayors are holding protest meetings against forced amalgamations “that are not going to happen”.

He stressed that the government is sticking to its policy of no forced council amalgamations by pointing to the Independent Local Government Reform Panel’s Future Directions report which is due to go public in April 2013.

The Independent Panel was set up in 2012 after a request by the Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW, which has since merged to become Local Government NSW.

Mr Page said that part of the Terms of Reference of the Independent Panel is to take into account the government’s 2011 policy of no forced amalgamations.

He gave councils the option to amalgamate if they wanted by advising them to talk to the Independent Panel.

“We are still committed to reforming the local government sector, subject to this policy,’’ he said.

He said the government would continue to work together with councils, unions and the community to improve services in local government areas.

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5 thoughts on “Forced council amalgamations in NSW repudiated

  1. The number of COuncils in NSW particularly in Metropolitan areas is too large and is just another level of bureaucracy and cost without merit. If local fiefdoms will not act in the best interests of ratepayers they should be amalgamated.

  2. councils should be abolished as expensive child games.
    they should be replaced with politically appointed administrators who know what what’s best for different local areas within the state.
    residents should stick to finding and keeping a job, maintaining their residence, doing their shopping and other like enjoyments.

  3. i am at canturbury council and we have not been told anny thing about the merger with other councils i am worried about my job because my wife and my self r about to have our first baby and i don’t know if i will have an job as the union is doing nothing about it and it is not helping me or anny of my fellow workers thanks Gillard and the government for destroying my working life

  4. This government forced merger, and make no mistake the Government is determined and this has been born out by the so called consultation process, where the attendees were told that it will happen. That If councils have not moved to amalgamate by September 2013 the government will not provide funding to them when the forced amalgamation takes place in 2014.

    This legislation will further suppress the growth of small country centres for example: Lockhart, as the administrative staff will have to seek employment in Wagga Wagga. The flow on will mean that their children will have to go to school in Wagga Wagga to facilitate parental management of the children,s transport and after school arrangements. The travelling time from Lockhart to Wagga Wagga is around 50 minutes. The Lockhart Council is very efficient as local government can be. And there are no savings to be made from this council amalgamating with Wagga Wagga.

    Local representation is very important to the community. The amalgamation of Ryde into Parramatta would create a vacuum and creat extended delays in the approval process of local government and a lack of adequate local representation. It would have no bearing on traffic and transport planning as those who currently oversee the states transport are void of vision in particular the transport Minister. Eg: Non integration of the North West Rail Link with the State Wide Rail System. The slow deliberate rundown of State Rail Network to accommodate larger and larger road transport vehicle which actually increase the wear and tare of our road system, which far outweighs the cost of rail mainenence.

  5. Can they add the ever rate increasing Kempsey Shire Council to it’s list. This council runs it’s assets on the back of the ratepayers now.Some call it a chook raffle. Claiming that most homes are owned by investors and so, can afford to pay the increases each year. Amalgamate this council with Port Macquarie and the State saves on the duplication of a these wages and their super payouts. Most of them live in Port Macquarie anyway.

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