Clear message to councils: stick to your core business

28 February 2008

The sacking of Port Macquarie-Hastings Council sends a clear message that local councils should stick to their core business, according to the Urban Taskforce.

The dismissal of Port Macquarie-Hastings Council follows the disastrous development of a cultural and entertainment centre where costs blew out from $6 million to $41 million.


Aaron Gadiel, the Taskforces chief executive, congratulated Public Inquiry Commissioner Frank Willan for getting to the bottom of a very messy business.


Weve been demanding to know why the council has been holding onto developer contributions instead of spending them on local roads, bridges, footpaths, kerbs and gutters, buildings and drainage infrastructure, Mr Gadiel said.


Developers normally pay a contribution to local councils to cover the cost of community amenities needed by residents of new housing developments.


Instead of being spent straight away on building new community facilities, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has been putting the cash into a massive investment portfolio.


The council has been amassing a $79 million hoard while essential infrastructure is ignored.


In 2004 Port Macquarie-Hastings Council said it has an infrastructure shortfall amounting to $144 million.


The evidence is now in: The public inquiry has found that the cultural and arts centre will adversely impact on the provision of works and services.


It looks like the council has been amassing this money to deal with the costs of this new cultural centre.


The inquiry has found that the centre will be a drain on the councils budget, even if its fully utilised 365 days a year.


We welcome the appointment of Warringah Council administrator, Dick Persson but we acknowledge he has his work cut out for him.


Port Macquarie-Hastings disastrous antics only illustrate why councils should stick to their core business and just build community amenities as soon as they receive money from developers.


The best thing they can do for their local communities is provide services not speculate on risky business ventures.


Earlier this month it was revealed that councils across NSW were sitting on a $1.2 billion unspent fortune in developer contributions.


Every levy a council slaps on new homes makes them more expensive for young families.


Were backing new rules to be introduced, requiring local councils to spend developer contributions on new amenities in a much more timely way.


The State Government is right to intervene and get this money spent on whats needed.


The NSW development industrys annual turnover is $35 billion and employs 180,000 people, accounting for six percent of the States total employment. It is the fifth largest contributor to the State economy.

Media Enquires:
Aaron Gadiel,
Chief Executive Officer,
phone: 0417 477 904  or (02) 9238 3955

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