Tasmanian Times

Economy

Cost of living a major driver for local government reform

WITH cost of living continually on the rise, nearly three quarters of the Tasmanian community believe council mergers would see a savings in their rates according to an EMRS telephone survey of 1,000 people throughout the state conducted just last month.

In releasing the figures, Chairwoman of Tasmanians for Reform Mary Massina said she was not surprised that some 73 per cent of Tasmanians believed that Councils would save money if they were to merge.

“When you combine this figure with the fact that 73 per cent of Tasmanians believe there is a need to merge councils you realise that cost of living issues are clearly driving part of the debate around this issue,” Ms Massina said.

“Given that a Deloitte Access Economics report says there could be efficiency gains of up to 35 per cent if local government reform was properly implemented, it is not surprising that the majority of the community has worked out that local government needs to shape up.”

Since Tasmanians for Reform was launched the number of organisations involved has continued to grow, with the peak body for the community sector TasCOSS now adding its weight to the campaign.
CEO Tony Reidy said TasCOSS supports the campaign for reform.

“It is clear that local government mergers present a real opportunity to reduce the burden of ever increasing cost of living on ordinary Tasmanians through a reduction in the cost of delivering services,” Mr Reidy said.

Ms Massina said the reason why there were now some 25 community, professional and business organisations part of Tasmanians for Reform was because in tough economic times, it was clear that all sections of the community needed to do some heavy lifting.

“We are seeing huge budget cuts at a federal and state level, but local government appears to be forgotten,” Ms Massina said.

“Surely if we are to make Tasmania more efficient and competitive so we can create jobs, investment and tackle all cost of livings issues to ensure the generations to come, it is important for local
government to pull its weight as well.

“With 73 per cent of the community stating savings can be achieved through local government mergers and just about every peak organisation in Tasmania now part of the reform campaign, the time has come to get on with the job and accept that 281 councillors and 29 councils for a population of just over 500,000 people is ridiculous.”

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Robert LePage

    December 3, 2011 at 11:45 am

    I agree with no 4 ,there will be no increase in efficiency or reduction in costs.
    The amalgamation of the Cygnet and Esperance councils with Huon council was supposed to achieve this but as anyone who can remember that far back would have to agree, the so called improvements to Cygnet was not ever seen.
    If it aint broke, don’t fix it.

  2. John Alford

    December 2, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Council reform needs to be approached very carefully, particularly the amalgamation of councils. We have been through this before in Tasmania. Local council remains the one representative area of government, where it is still possible to have access to your local elected representatives and get something done. This has become less achievable at the State and Federal Government levels. “Efficiencies” resulting from larger councils may not necessarily mean better governance.

    What is Tasmanians for Reform? Where did this group come from and who are its major backers? I would like to hear the answer to this question so I can make some assessments about this group’s motivation on this issue.

  3. Pete Godfrey

    December 2, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Sorry but I don’t believe that amalgamation of councils will save ratepayers anything.
    I can’t remember any cost cutting measure, reform or amalgamation that has led to the public paying less taxes.
    We were supposed to pay less tax with GST. yeah right.
    We were supposed to get a rate cut when the water and sewage corporations took over.
    No government has ever managed to lower the cost of living. They just don’t understand the mechanics of lowering taxes.

  4. james walker

    December 2, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    Yes another day another broad brush press release, It is well past time for this lobby group to spell out what they mean by reform, is it a single southern Tasmanian council, an enlarged Hobart council or something else.
    I would be very careful claiming to be the champions of bringing down cost of living pressures. The hardship inflicted on households and moral hazard inflicted on responsible councils by the creation of Southern Water is significant.

  5. Peter Dixon

    December 2, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    A substantial part of Launceston’s rates is made up of ‘business activities’ like football stadiums, swimming pools etc all of which lose masses of money.

    The Council loves it because it justifies much higher budgets (read rates), more staff and higher executive salaries.

    Merging won’t stop this. We need the LGA to prohibit Councils from spending dollars that should be carried out by the private sector

  6. Jeff Mellis

    December 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Council amalgamation will be hugely beneficial for George Town Council residents. Their council (2700 electors) has not had a Municipal Planner since late 2007 when recently-hired Francois from South Africa left as he was a decent human being and was fulfilling the role as it should be done. Francois was being undermined (from within in my opinion).

    A token attempt at hiring a Municipal Planner is undertaken every few years but it is apparent nepotism and cronyism is rife in that council. The outsourced “contract” planning officer has been calling the shots since John Ayres left over a decade ago.

    Bring on amalgamations for George Town’s sake among many other reasons.

  7. Peter Smith

    December 1, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    My word bills associated with property ownership keep going up. Seems the high standard of living expected by those in the public service, who don’t really create any tangible product as a result of their labours, demands that everyone else suffer as a result unable in many cases to afford a trip to the dentist, for example.

  8. Relle

    December 1, 2011 at 11:51 am

    while I believe reforming local government in Tasmania is needed. I would hope that it is done right. Local Government employes a lot of locals, any reform most accomadate this.

    Reforming may not bring a decrease in the amount of rates we pay. I am reminded of the water and waste water bungle where we have ended up paying more and in some cases council rates have risen more to accomadate the dividend they no longer recieve.

    To get this right this must be driven by the people, not the state government. or we risk paying more, getting less and having many good local people unemployed.

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