The statement by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) that they will assess council fitness for the future flexibly is good news, says the Urban Taskforce.
“There were concerns that IPART would require certain population numbers to be a threshold requirement to be fit for the future,” says Urban Taskforce CEO, Chris Johnson. “There is no evidence that big is better with local government and the real measure of fitness for the future should be how the state government and councils efficiently work together.”
“Joint Organisations of Councils could well be a more effective way to be fit for the future where the efficiency of size for some services can occur with a shared service centre while local identity is retained. In the area of planning, for instance, alterations and additions to houses are best left at a local level but strategic planning for the arrival of hundreds of thousands of new residents and how infrastructure is provided for this must be considered at a state and regional level.”
“The management of growth will need a partnership between local councils and the state government who provide the infrastructure and the community services. To only assess the role of the local council will miss the important role of the state government.”
“While it may not be in their strict terms of reference IPART will need to look at the relationship between the delivery of state services and how they mesh with local councils to ensure that all of this is fit for the future.”