A great many Tasmanians are unhappy with the performance of their councils and struggling under crippling rates bills. Reducing the number of councils would be a tangible way of addressing this.
The case for council amalgamations is self-evident and compelling. For instance it would create efficiencies and that would reduce the cost of local government, diminish future rates rises and lead to much improved services. Having 29 councils in a state of 500,000 people is patently ridiculous. It’s way beyond time for the State Government, supported by all the political parties, to deal with it.
Council amalgamations are much too important a matter to be left to the councils themselves to decide. They’re too close to it and for many aldermen and councillors it’s not in their self-interest to see the big picture.
But nothing is going to happen until the State Labor-Greens Government and Liberal Opposition show some backbone and tackle council amalgamations head-on, including the possibility of forced amalgamations if that’s what’s eventually needed. But regrettably they refuse to do so because they lack that backbone and in particular the sort of strong leadership figures needed to pull off big and difficult reform.
One of the problems here is the self-interest of the Labor Party and Greens who now see councils as a legitimate part of the political space and run endorsed council election candidates. For these parties at least, councils are another opportunity for expanding their political power and, if for that reason alone, refuse to insist on changes that would reduce the number of aldermen and councillors.