14 May 2015
14 May 2015
During debate on a motion moved by Independent Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich, the government finally exposed it intends to force councils to merge regardless of their financially sustainability and community support within existing boundaries, after it skirted around the issue before the election.
Mr Greenwich’s motion called on the House to oppose forced amalgamations of councils that are financially sustainable and have the support of their communities.
“Amalgamations will lead to significant service and system disruptions, increased costs, lost efficiencies and reduced representation, and most benefits are achievable within exiting boundaries through sharing resources and services.
“There can be no justification to force amalgamations on councils that are sustainable and whose communities do not agree to an amalgamation; if the government is sincere in helping financially struggling councils, its focus would be on other reforms identified by the Sansom review.
“The government’s focus on forced amalgamations over any other reforms, shows that its “fit for the future” program was merely a disguise for its true agenda while being a massive waste of councils’ time and resources.
“Evaluations ignore councils’ social and community benefits because these will be eroded under a mega-councils model,” Mr Greenwich said.
During debate Mr Greenwich called on the government to remove opportunities for corruption and undue influence in local government given larger councils could increase these opportunities.
“Mega councils will mean bigger election campaigns and a greater need to raise funds, yet local government elections have lax rules with no donation caps and inadequate disclosure requirements despite council decisions ability to deliver massive private benefit.
“Local government must cease to be plaything subject to sackings, mergers and de-amalgamations for state government political advantage and should once and for all be recognised in the constitution with democracy protected,” Mr Greenwich concluded.