No forced council amalgamations, says NSW Parliamentary Inquiry

Thursday, October 29, 2015 | David Shoebridge

The Parliamentary Inquiry into local government has handed down its final report recommending that the Baird government commit to a policy of no forced amalgamations after finding that much of the ‘Fit for the Future’ assessment process was flawed.

The inquiry also found that IPART should never have conducted assessments into the overall ‘fitness’ of local councils and recommended that the government to reject IPART’s findings that 71% of Sydney Councils and 56% of regional councils are ‘unfit. ’

Greens MP and Spokesperson for Local Government David Shoebridge said: “What local government needs is the government committed to a policy that will ‘Fix Funding First’ – not forced amalgamations.

“The inquiry has ultimately shown what a political farce the ‘Fit for the Future’ agenda is.

“The report clearly finds that IPART should never have conducted its assessment into the supposed ‘fitness’ of local councils and that its findings are seriously unreliable.

“The vast majority of councils were found unfit by IPART because of their ‘scale and capacity.’ This report finds the scale and capacity criteria was flawed and should never have been included.

“The Baird government must now abandon its hopelessly compromised political agenda to force amalgamations on unwilling local councils and communities.

“The solution for regional planning isn’t super councils, but a statutory model that supports joint organisations.

“This report should give local communities and councils added strength to stand up to the bully-boy tactics of the Baird government and keep local councils local.” Mr Shoebridge said.