Monday, 08 September 2014 16:22

More to reform than just amalgamations - WSROC

Media Release September 8, 2014

The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils has urged the government to undertake proper detailed surveys of council finances before forcing amalgamations to ensure genuine benefits and not rely on outdated and discredited Treasury Corp figures.

WSROC President Tony Hadchiti said the re-issue of the Treasury Corp figures, which were widely discredited when they were first released in April 2013, shows the Government is likely to push ahead with amalgamations as part of their response to the Independent local Government Review Panel.

“WSROC believes that the issue of amalgamations should be up to the individual councils,” he said. “If they are to go ahead they should be shown to be of benefit to those councils and more importantly their residents and ratepayers.

“However, using these outdated and arbitrary Treasury Corp figures to justify mergers is potentially disastrous.

“As was widely reported at the time, the figures used to assess the financial status of Councils were not standardised and were subject to arbitrary calculations which did not take into account the individual circumstances of each council.”

“If you merge two small underperforming councils then you end up with one big underperforming council.”

“Some councils may have a lot of money in the bank but their infrastructure backlog is huge. Others may be in debt but their infrastructure is state of the art.

“If you merge these two councils you end up with one big council with both debt and an infrastructure backlog. That would be a disaster.”

Clr Hadchiti said there had to be more to successful reform than simply forcing small councils to become big councils.

“Big doesn’t necessarily mean better,” he said. “If the Government is serious about creating genuine partnerships between State and Local Governments then they need to take into account local issues, proper resourcing - including a review of infrastructure provision and rate capping – and ensure that any changes are designed to improve efficiency and service delivery, not just amalgamations for the sake of it.

“We would urge the Government to undertake a new review, using agreed standards and weightings, in order to assess the genuine state of these councils before they proceed with amalgamations to ensure that they will provide genuine benefits,” Clr Hadchiti said. 

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Media Inquiries Karin Bishop, CEO on 0417 239 539

Last modified on Tuesday, 07 October 2014 14:40

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