Tuesday, 28 April 2015 13:59

WSROC fit for the future

Train lines at night. Train lines at night.

As anti-merger campaigns pick up momentum among some NSW councils, President of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) Cllr Tony Hadchiti has questioned the Government’s decision to prohibit metropolitan joint organisations as a way of helping councils become fit for the future.

“WSROC supports many of the reforms outlined in the Revitalising Local Government report including the fundamental principles of building capacity within local government to act as equal partners with the NSW Government in service delivery and infrastructure provision,” said Cllr Hadchiti.

“The report outlined a range of options to achieve reform – of which amalgamation was just one. Others included establishing so-called "joint organisations" – regional groupings of councils that  would come together to advocate and plan strategically at a regional level as well as promote shared services and opportunities to achieve efficiencies and cost savings though closer collaboration,” he said.

“Nearly every council in NSW participates voluntarily in what are called "regional organisations of councils" – organisations that have been set up by councils to serve this very purpose.

“If the NSW Government is serious about creating a more sustainable partnership between state and local government – and a more efficient and collaborative local-government sector – then perhaps it should look to the structure of the existing regional organisations of councils as another way forward, to achieve the increased economies of scale it seeks,” said Cllr Hadchiti.

“In rural and regional areas this is just what the Government is doing. Regional "ROCs" have been invited to enter talks with the government around developing and increasing their capacity for regional representation and co-ordination,” he said.

“In light of this, the Government’s decision to exclude their metropolitan equivalent "ROCs" from being the vehicle for these so-called "joint organisations" is perplexing.”

“Sydney has five ROCs which represent almost all of the 43 councils, grouped around regions in the west, south, north and northern beaches and the Macarthur region.

We strongly believe that metropolitan councils should have the opportunity to participate in a joint organisation if they wish, and that the metropolitan ROCs are already well placed to assist the NSW Government in developing the model,” said Cllr Hadchiti.

“WSROC also broadly supports the proposed changes to the Local Government Act, in particular, the move to allow councils to divest purchasing to independent third parties such as ROCs,” he said.

“WSROC urges the NSW Government to strongly consider allowing ROCs to become prescribed joint organisations so they are able to enter into contracts directly on behalf of their councils. This would allow both councils and ROCs greater flexibility and independence in how they structure and negotiate contracts with suppliers which should result in significant cost savings to councils and their ratepayers.”

“Ultimately, councils will benefit from having control over their own affairs and the power to make their own choices,” said Cllr Hadchiti.

For more on the role of Joint Organisations in the context of Fit for the Future reforms visit:

NSW Government. (September, 2014). Joint Organisations, Fit for the future: A blueprint for the future of local government.

Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils. (March, 2015). Fit for the future: Joint organisations, WSROC State Election Issues Brief March 2015, p. 9.

Hadchiti, T. (October 9, 2014). The missing link in council mergers, Sydney Morning Herald.

*WSROC has been a strong supporter of the local government reform process and has participated fully since its inception at the Destination 2031 summit in Dubbo in 2011.


 

Last modified on Wednesday, 06 May 2015 14:26