The NSW Business Chamber, the state’s peak business organisation, says the New South Wales Government’s decision to move forward with council amalgamations is the circuit breaker needed to deliver wider reform to local government.
“The NSW Business Chamber has consistently argued that the current governance and the financial and democratic structures of local government are failing to meet the needs of our growing community,” said NSW Business Chamber CEO, Stephen Cartwright.
“In both our 2011 state election campaign 10 Big Ideas to Grow NSW and our 2015 campaign Unfinished Business, we identified local government reform as an urgent priority for the business community.
“It is in everyone’s interest to have local councils that are stronger, better resourced and more responsive to the needs of the community. Reducing the number of councils in NSW and providing them with a proper revenue stream will improve infrastructure delivery and ensure that we can better manage future growth.
“While the Chamber has been an active participant in the numerous reviews and inquiries into local government reform over the past five years, it was becoming clear that these processes were being drawn out by councils unwilling to face the critical need to modernise.
“When you consider that NSW currently has more councillors than Victoria and Queensland combined, it is clear that there is significant room for our system to be more efficient and we are pleased to see the NSW Government get on with the job.
“Local Government needs the financial and strategic capacity to work in partnership with both state and federal government in delivering critical services to our community
“As we have consistently argued, local government reform is more than just changing lines on a map and should include a major reassessment of the powers and responsibilities of councils so that NSW has the local capacity to manage and support its growth in both metropolitan and regional areas.
“We will be continuing to call on the Government to introduce reforms to create consistency in council service levels and improve governance to ensure this important level of government can better meet community expectations,” Mr Cartwright said.