Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Media Release

Tasman community to vote on amalgamation

TASMAN ratepayers will vote on amalgamation with Sorell following the decision of the Tasman Council to conduct an elector poll to determine the issue.


Voters will be asked to vote simply YES or NO on Tasman’s amalgamation with Sorell to form a single new council, and Council has agreed to accept the outcome as binding.


The poll will be conducted by the Tasmanian Electoral Commission over a four-week period beginning with the distribution of ballots and summary information packs from March 13. Voting will close at 10am on April 9.


Tasman Mayor Kelly Spaulding said a notice of the elector poll would appear in the media tomorrow (Saturday February 2).


Cr Spaulding said after deciding to conduct the elector poll in November last year, at its most recent meeting last week, Council agreed to honour the outcome and implement the decision as soon as reasonably possible following the vote.


“Either way, the Tasman community will have certainty that the majority decision will be honoured,” Cr Spaulding said.


“Obviously, Councillors have views of the issue and are free to express them, but we are committed to the community having its say and that will determine how we move forward.


“We see this as the responsible approach and the best means of ensuring the community gets the outcome it desires.”


Cr Spaulding said to further inform the community, Council had also agreed to conduct a public meeting on Saturday, February 16 at the Taranna Community Centre between 2pm and 5pm. All residents and ratepayers have been written to outlining the process and encouraging voter registration and participation.


The amalgamation issue has attracted considerable public interest and Council has received ratepayer submissions supporting the elector poll and community meeting.


Council had also been in discussions with the Minister for Local Government Peter Gutwein and the Tasmanian Electoral Commission regarding the conduct of the elector poll.


“Importantly, the Minister has agreed to the State Government funding the poll, so there will be no additional cost to the Council or ratepayers.


“We are grateful for the Minister’s support and the provision of Government funding for this important initiative that will determine how the Tasman community will be governed in the future,” Cr Spaulding said.

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  1. Lola Moth

    April 10, 2019 at 7:25 am

    There needs to be a rule that you cannot be affiliated with any political party if you are running in local council elections.

    I don’t want the Liberals or Greens in charge of my garbage collection. I want local people who are only interested in helping the local community to be making decisions about local issues.

    I don’t want people who see being on the council as a springboard to a political career doing deals for their own greedy futures.

  2. john kokavec murdunna

    April 9, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    Good news! People overwhelmingly voted NO!

  3. Tony Stone

    February 3, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    Kate, 29 councils is not ridiculous, and it has been that way for a century or so. Giving power over the Tasman to people 75 kms away means less service, increased rates and more bureaucrats.

    The problem we are facing is people are getting less and less say in their lives, along with fewer and fewer services. Amalgamation also means infrastructure will be based in Sorell, and jobs will be lost on the Tasman. If you believe anything a politician or bureaucrat says then you’re a fool as they are so untrustworthy and wasteful. Especially when they are based 75 kms away, have no understanding, knowledge or experience in on-the-ground council operations down the Tasman, and don’t know the people at all. It’s the people in the area who support and work with council staff who they mostly know personally. That will disappear and what will replace it can be seen in other council amalgamations around the country, just about all of which have failed to live up to the claims of pollies and bureaucrats.

    This is no different to anything they do. It’s always a a failure, and the people suffer.

    It will also mean many more council services will be farmed out to private enterprise based somewhere else in the state or in Australia, as we have seen with our state roads and other services.

    You always get the best outcomes from those based in the area who not only know the place, but have pride in it. You don’t get that from those based at least 75 kms away, and this means that travel times will cut into work times and so diminish services and increase costs and time lines.

  4. Simon Warriner

    February 2, 2019 at 12:53 pm

    Efficiency and professionalism? On what evidence, please?

    All larger councils gets us is a more remote and less accountable bunch of bureaucrats.

    • Kate

      February 2, 2019 at 1:58 pm

      Simon, do you think they are about to vote on amalgamating their councils because we are running out of names or something?

      There is no ‘two party’ system in local government, so this means that “we – the people” have to ask questions, keep an eye out, and lobby our Councillors accordingly.

      At any given time, most councils, if not all, have a very poor opposition. People do not take local government seriously enough, and this is one reason why mandatory voting should be introduced.

      • Simon Warriner

        February 2, 2019 at 7:16 pm

        Kate, you made a claim. I asked for evidence, but none is present.

        I’m not disagreeing .. but my question stands.

        • Kate

          February 2, 2019 at 9:15 pm

          I was in debate with someone only a short time back and I was directed to numerous feasibility studies. From memory some of them were recommending a three to four council model in Tas. I am sure if you contacted Gutwein’s office they could send you info that would keep you occupied for a while. Gutwein has stated this current government will not force amalgamations and I think this is a wise decision.

          From memory, Launceston council has around 70,000 people and the smallest council around 5,000. The lobbying power is somewhat at an imbalance. I personally do not have any trouble lobbying politicians (local,state,fed) as long as I do some homework and run a structured “non pie in the sky” argument, and I am actually a nobody.

          David O’Byrne did ask the question of Gutwein re his opinion on compulsory voting for local government (refer Hansard, late 2018) and his reply was that he was not ruling it out.

          I presume you are aware there is currently a Local Government legislation review underway.

          • Simon Warriner

            February 3, 2019 at 8:23 am

            Kate, re feasibility studies, they are simply arguments in favor of a desired outcome, and they always present the rosiest possible picture by ignoring the fact that the largest entity within the merged outcome will have more power and influence than the outlying communities and residents. What I asked for, and want to see, are studies that show mergers that were successful at driving rates down and service levels and accountability up, and how that outcome was achieved. That is what I mean by evidence. If the case for mergers was as compelling as you suggest then they should be as common as muck, yet they seem to be in far scarcer supply. You were the one who made the statement, and given your enthusiasm I thought it might have been based on something concrete. Clearly not. I have however, seen and heard reference made to data that suggests that mergers do not serve the ratepayers of smaller councils anywhere near as well as the promoters of said mergers are claiming.

            Your lobbying power argument also cuts another way. What sway will the residents of Perth, for example, have if they are in a Council that is dominated by Launceston and its needs, wants and problems, and the inevitability that most of the staff will be domiciled in and around Launceston. I happen to like that fact that as a rural resident I can call my mayor on his mobile and discuss a matter of concern, and that, depending on the issue, he might walk down the corridor and say a few kind words to the relevant officer and get the ball rolling or introduce a note of sanity when the plot has been mislaid. It saves a hell of a lot of the work that is involved getting a group of rate payers together, and then going through a long-winded process of driving change. A couple of fire seasons ago that approach actually drove an outcome that would have saved lives and property had an emergency situation played out slightly differently. That communal process is slow and often ends up generating resistance from officialdom and amplifying the effort required to correct what are often stupidly small mistakes.

            I do note that our mayor gets frustrated by the bureaucracy and the preponderance of rules that act to prevent council officers from being properly accountable for their shortcomings, but merging small councils to make large ones will not fix that, in fact it will only serve to make that problem worse.

            Visibility and accountability are always inversely proportional to enterprise size, in my experience.

            Perhaps a more reasonable approach might be to place a limit on the ridiculous remuneration paid to local govt officers, many of whom are clearly engaged in a game of snakes and ladders as they move from municipality to municipality around the country in search of ever more money and perks. Their devotion and loyalty to any municipality is often questionable, and the mistakes they make before moving on can be long lasting and very expensive. They have near dictatorial powers at the senior management level, and the elected members on council are often bullshitted around and around in circles by those whose knowledge of how to work in a rules-based environment has been honed razor sharp.

            As an example, my Council GM some time ago told the Councillors at a regular meeting that his officers had no power to impose conditions of trucks on a council road. The Council believed him and knocked back my request. Several years later I was informed by a very senior gentleman from DIER, while attending a road safety forum, that the GM and his officers were very much mistaken, as they had every power needed to do whatever was required to deliver a safe outcome, and that if required he would make them aware of that fact publicly.

    • Kate

      February 3, 2019 at 9:59 am

      Simon, go and see your local MP, Labor or Liberal. He will be able to direct you to all the information that has been compiled over the years on this matter.

      • Simon Warriner

        February 3, 2019 at 12:23 pm

        So you are just spruiking the party line. OK, I won’t waste any more of your valuable time.

        • spikey

          February 3, 2019 at 1:25 pm

          Curious behaviour from a person identifying with what I understand to be a commonly accepted female name, to add a male gender bias to such a helpful suggestion.

          Clearly there are no Green MPs or female LibLabs.

        • Kate

          February 3, 2019 at 1:34 pm

          No problem Simon. Thanks for the dance.

  5. Kate

    February 2, 2019 at 11:41 am

    29 Councils in a state the size of Tasmania is absolutely deplorable.

    In theory, by amalgamating councils it will not only pick up efficiency but also encourage Councillors to be more professional. At the moment their influence is no greater than to bicker over which day a rubbish bin can be picked up.

    Mr Gutwein was a very good choice for Minister for Local Government .. for he has no hair left to pull out!

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