Rejecting the need for council amalgamations, Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore has cited the Wellington Blayney Cabonne Strategic Alliance as a perfect example of how local government is already undertaking reform.
Speaking at the NSW Local Government Conference in Sydney, Cr Moore said a local government review ordered by the state government had failed.
Although acknowledging the need for reform, Cr Moore said the Independent Review Panel had “failed to put forward a compelling, evidence-based case for change.”
She said amalgamations risked creating additional levels of bureaucracy and tiers of government and the panel had not demonstrated benefits would outweigh costs.
Cr Moore said several organisations including the WBC were innovative and progressive examples of how local government was already reforming the sector.
Cabonne mayor Ian Gosper welcomed the Sydney lord mayor’s endorsement of the WBC, which has been at the forefront of local government reform for the past 10 years.
“The Alliance has demonstrated over the past decade resource sharing and collaborative arrangements can provide enormous savings and efficiencies for councils without residents and ratepayers losing their local representation,” he said.
“The WBC has saved more than $5 million for Central Tablelands Water, Wellington, Blayney and Cabonne Councils, as well as 'strategic capacity' gains through the sharing of resources, ideas and strategies.
“The Alliance is continually exploring reforms to further benefit our ratepayers.
“In fact, the WBC has put a model to the independent panel that can deliver substantial reforms and efficiencies without the need for widespread amalgamations.”
Independent panel chairman Professor Graham Sansom refuted Cr Moore’s claims of insufficient evidence, emphasising strongly that the panel had assembled a compelling body of evidence for change.
The panel is expected to deliver its final report to the state government this month.
In its previous discussion paper, the panel proposed a number of council mergers, including the amalgamation of Cabonne with Orange City and Blayney Shire Councils.
Cr Gosper said Cabonne welcomed the government’s review and the work of the panel because “we have been leading true reform for years.”
“But amalgamation with Orange isn't the answer,” he said.
Cr Gosper said Cabonne would be distributing a shire-wide survey in the next week to gauge the opinion of all residents and ratepayers.
“The survey will be followed by a series of workshops throughout the shire in late October and early November, the results of which will be used to put a comprehensive case to Local Government Minister Don Page,” he said.