Woollahra Municipal Council Forced Amalgamation

Woollahra Municipal Council Forced Amalgamation

(Question Without Notice, 12 November 2015, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

My question is directed to the Premier. Given that the Fit for the Future process highlighted that the Liberal Party-led Woollahra Municipal Council is strong and financially sustainable and residents overwhelmingly want the council to remain a stand-alone council, will the Premier inform the House if the Government will rule out sacking this democratically elected council?

Premier's Response:

I welcome the new member for Woollahra. All of a sudden he is interested in Woollahra. I love it.

I consider that the member for Sydney, actually believes, as a general principle, in looking after the ratepayers in this State. The question is: If we want to look after ratepayers in the State and we have a capacity to deliver better services, more infrastructure and lower rates, or a combination of all three, why would we not do that? I understand there are people involved who have individual interests. The last thing politicians want to do is vote for more politicians. This side of the House is interested in looking after the ratepayers of this State, and the Government makes no apologies for that. I know that there are people who stand against us. The member for Maitland stands against the Government on everything, which means, as a general principle, that the Government must be right on everything.

I acknowledge the member's point of order. I agree with the member for Maitland, she does sometimes support the Government. In terms of achieving stronger councils, the Government wants to introduce better management.

The Government wants councils with the best management and greater responsibility in order to deliver better outcomes for the community.

Mr Alex Greenwich: Point of order—

The SPEAKER: Order! Is the point of order on relevance?

Mr Alex Greenwich: Yes, it is on relevance. My question was clearly asking whether the Premier would rule out sacking the democratically elected Woollahra council.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Premier is being generally relevant to the question. The Premier has the call. There is too much audible conversation in the Chamber.

The PREMIER:  With the best management in place, we can import best practice. Currently, some councils take 90 days to process development applications while others take 40 days. The Government wants best practice across the State because that will improve the economy. The Government is addressing housing supply, which is a great thing for the overall economy. The Government wants better strategic planning and to attract quality people and to put savings to work for the ratepayers of the State. We are encouraging every council in New South Wales to back the ratepayer.

I know that the Opposition members would not have read the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal report because it is more than a couple of pages. It is a serious report, so I know that Captain Serious will be reading it. When he has read it, he will tell the Opposition members of the significant benefits for communities across the State. The Government looks after the interests of the people of New South Wales and the ratepayers and that involves delivering better services, more infrastructure and lower rates, or a combination of all three. That is great news for the people of this State.

Let's work together to celebrate and protect our great city!