Local government review must lead to real change

08 January 2014

The final report by the NSW Independent Local Government Review Panel has some positive recommendations that need to be implemented, says the Urban Taskforce.


“The recommendation for statutory Joint Organisations of groups of councils must be implemented to get a more relevant regional approach to governance and to align with state government regional responsibilities,” says Urban Taskforce CEO, Chris Johnson. “The proposed boundaries of Joint Organisations are based on a clear logic and should be adopted by the government as soon as possible.”


“The proposal to defer the establishment of Joint Organisations of councils in Metropolitan Sydney to see if amalgamations may occur will only delay the implementation of the new structure. The better approach is to encourage amalgamations within the proposed Joint Organisation boundaries.”


“As the NSW Government is still opposed to forced amalgamations, the statutory Joint Organisation structure should require the establishment of Centres of Excellence for regional roads and planning. While the report supports Regional Roads Groups it is silent on developing more professional planning offices to combine skills as recommended by the ICAC submission on planning reforms.”


“The Urban Taskforce supports the proposal to have representation for Sub Regional Planning Boards from the Joint Organisation of Councils rather than from individual councils as this will give a more regional approach.”


“Clearly the Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney being prepared by the Department of Planning and Infrastructure will need to adjust its Sub Regional boundaries to align with the review panel’s proposals.”


“We are concerned at the slowness of progress on local government reform. The panel report was completed last October but only released 3 months later. Local Government NSW now want the submission time to be extended to the end of April. As we get closer to the election in early 2015 it is unlikely that any bold decisions will be made.”


“It would have been useful for the Minister for Local Government to give some initial government response to the recommendations to the report rather than delegating inputs to councils and their communities. The big issues of population growth that come from Federal Government immigration decisions need to be implemented by state and local government so that the citizens see the three levels working together. The effectiveness of local government is critical to the states prosperity and this requires the input of the business sector as well as local government itself.”


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