Thursday's rally against forced amalgamations. Photo: Joe Bourke

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By Lauren O’Connor

 

A protest against forced amalgamations near State Parliament last Thursday June 11 highlighted a “united position” against amalgamation, according to Greens spokesperson for local government David Shoebridge.
Several state politicians supported the “Save Our Councils Coalition” rally including Labor’s local government spokesperson Peter Primrose MLC, member for Strathfield Jodi McKay, Christian Democrats MP Fred Nile, Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich and ratepayers from across the state.
Mr Shoebridge told the gathering that the government could not force amalgamations on local communities “unless they get a change to the law in the NSW Parliament”.
“Whether you’re in Strathfield or Randwick, Byron Bay or Bega, people have a right to have a genuine local council. This government wants local councils that are the size of a quarter of a million residents. The only reason they want that is because it’s good for big business,” he said.
For inner west suburbs, a merger would mean a single council would oversee an LGA from Sydney Airport to Balmain and Homebush.
Councils across Sydney and the state have until June 30 to prove they are ‘Fit for the Future’.
The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has been charged with reviewing the efficiency and ability of individual councils to deliver services. It is understood IPART will commence their assessments in July, and report their findings to parliament in mid-October.
This short time period between submission and parliamentary decision-making has drawn particular criticism at anti-amalgamation meetings.
The opposition’s Local Government spokesperson Peter Primrose MLC has criticised the methodology of IPART and time constraints of the reviewing process.
“The focus of local government reform must be the delivery of better services, but IPART’s methodology is clearly designed to simply make bigger councils. They have failed to provide any modelling justifying the key assumption that ‘bigger is better,” he told City Hub.