May 24 - 30, 2015: Issue 215
Public Meeting on Local Government Reforms Indicates Forthcoming Backlash Against NSW Government
Standing Room Only at Pittwater Council's Public Meeting Consultation
May 24, 2015
Pittwater Community Stands by "No Amalgamations" – Calls on All Individuals to Defend Every Council in New South Wales to Retain Local Government
Pittwater Council, as part of the process entailed and outlined as required by the IPART Terms of Reference etc., held one of many events and consultations it is undertaking with the community at present. Pittwater has always had a community consultation process anyway; whereby residents will speak with their Councillors in the street or telephone them to discuss a matter. Pittwater is an open community and everyone has always been encouraged to address any matter or raise any questions with their elected representatives both informally and formally.
An adjudicated Public Meeting held on Tuesday this week was held to give residents an insight into the process and timetable for submissions that must be tendered to IPART as part of the NSW Government’s ‘Fit For The Future’ proposed reforms and to ask what residents want.
Speakers from the community gave short presentations, everyone was invited to ask questions about any part of the process and at the close of the Public Meeting a Motion was presented.
Unanimously agreed to, this Motion is:
That there be no change to the Council or the boundaries of Pittwater without "community support".
And amended this by calling for reaffirmation of the Government’s pledge that there be no forced amalgamations.
There was also a call for Hon. Robert Stokes to resign should he not wish to stand by those he was elected to represent, or ‘if he’s not going to stand in our corner, beside us’. This too received resounding applause and calls of “Hear Hear” from the packed room.
Mr. Stokes, is a popular local MP, but the community is adamant that it wishes to remain Pittwater Council, a Local Government, not become part of a Regional one, and will not be tricked by increments into acceding to a ‘Buck first’ approach or by anyone stating ‘this is your starting point’ to answer the question asked – the answer was ‘no’ at the ILGR Forum at Dee Why, however that result was subsequently reported, and remains so.
A general opinion that Pittwater residents don’t want to see poor Warringah Council split between themselves and Manly (as per 'start point' divisions) elucidated into an understanding that it is not the Local Government Councils who should be at each other’s necks, making sensationalist statements in line with current propaganda, but that they should stand together and turn any anger produced by the process now imposed, of which every rate payer is footing the bill for in reports, analysis, submissions &c., on the State Government itself.
Historically Northern Beaches people stick together – at National Surf Life Saving Carnivals all members of all clubs sit under the one tent and yell just as hard for someone from Manly LSC as they do for someone from Palm Beach SLSC.
SHOROC is the Local Council's reflection of this same credo, whereby SHOROC, or the Shore Regional Organisation of Councils, a partnership between Manly, Mosman, Pittwater and Warringah councils, work together to deliver regional outcomes such as securing investment in our public transport, hospitals and roads and on collaborative projects to improve our region’s natural environment and way of life. A key part of SHOROC's role is to support councils’ independence by working together to enable councils to cut costs and to improve efficiency and productivity - but still retain independence, as separate councils, on issues such as development. Recently Pittwater has been working with Hornsby on tendering for some services, extending the ethos but not in terms of 'regional' - merely a common sense approach of pooling and pulling together.
Working together, achieving a unified front and common sense approach is in our blood. Unfortunately, this already successful model may not be included in Pittwater Council's first submission - but perhaps the final IPART, due June 30, will allow Council to include how it has long addressed 'scale and capacity' , should the criteria not be changed yet again.
There were also calls to stick up for every other little council that may disappear under forced amalgamations, citing Lane Cove, which was taken as the inspiration to breakway from Warringah in the first place, as one of great merit and example.
Hon. Robert Stokes, the Member for Pittwater and now the NSW Government Minister for Planning and the Environment, bravely attended the meeting but had to leave after making a short address and answering three questions as he was attending a Meeting on Coal Seam Gas mining at Terrey Hills. He likened his evening to ‘between hell and high-water’ – which the packed auditorium conceded was a good joke, laughing, but remained unmoved otherwise and even a little disappointed and waiting for the ‘party line being adhered to’ words to cease and the gentleman to depart to another place, and face those opposed to yet another very unpopular political party stance by this current state government.
From those who attended, and sent to our office this week: Media Releases from Hon. Rob Stokes Office and Pittwater Council listed after these in date sequence received:
PRESENTATION BY IAN KENNEDY OAM, REPRESENTING 18 PITTWATER COMUNITIES CALLED "PITTWATER FOREVER"
May 20, 2015
Ian said there were three main issues concerning the feelings of the residents. Those issues are:
1 The Residents feel threatened
2 The Residents are angry
3 Resident Action
During Rob Stokes' speech, no mention was made of how the personal values of the people play a part in the process. The residents' feel threatened because the challenge is, how do they intervene in the process so as to influence the outcome. Threatened because for 23 years one of the most successful moves in local government which has delivered democratic freedom, true representation and preserved an extraordinary environment and qualtity of life, is now being threatened.
Angry because Pittwater is under threat and we thought the fight had been won 23 years ago by Robert Dunn and many other enthusiastic advocates of Pittwater's secession from Warringah.
Threatened because of the imposition of the process overseen by IPART which is a hoax and a spam. Even in the "consultation with IPART", the chairman, Peter Boxall, was adversarial.
Angry because because the politicians are not paying attention to our personal values. Liberal party promises made at their first election in NSW, not to implement amalgamations by force, are not being upheld after their second election. In fact it is difficult to get any clear statement from the Liberal Party about the criteria for the amalgamation process. Worse still, 4 days ago, Alex Greenwich moved a motion to prohibit forced amalgamation. The motion was defeated by the Liberal Party. Every body else voted for it.
Threatened because we are being manipulated into a process to amalgamate when there is no empirical evidence in Australia that scale is better. Worse still, in the many amalgamations which have taken place, no due diligence has been done on the outcomes and Professor Brian Dollery's modelling shows there have been no significant improvements.
Angry because after 23 years of successful local government, we don't want to endure the agonies of Noosa and Port Douglas who were the recent victims of amalgamation and took years to de-merge. Auckland's demerger has been a disaster and their rates just went up by 9% yesterday.
What can we do about it? Pittwater people power. There IS hope. In Perth, 5 local councils defeated the Premier's amalgamation move by maintaining their rage against it. The State Government had to abandoned its amalgamation plan.
We must be heard. By making a noise! We must man street tables, attend big rallies, like "Save Barrenjoey", so that eventually we make the politicians, in particular the state cabinet, feel as threatened and as angry as we are.
I move a motion that there be no change to the Council or the boundaries of Pittwater without "community support".
This motion was seconded by Harvey an ex mayor and carried by the meeting.
Pittwater residents say – “no merger, no change to boundaries”
From Pittwater Forever, May 20, 2015
AT last nights public meeting Pittwater residents voted unanimously for no merger and no change to Pittwater Council’s boundaries.
Passions ran high in the packed auditorium at Pittwater RSL. The feeling was best summed up by Ian Kennedy representing the 18 Pittwater communities which make up Pittwater Forever.
“We feel threatened, we feel angry and we are asking ourselves ‘what can we do’,” Mr Kennedy said.
Residents are threatened and angered by the State Government “Fit for the Future” process which imposes “scale and capacity” as it’s main criteria for deeming a local council fit. This, despite the fact the Pittwater council is in the top 10 fittest councils in the state and the KPMG report appraises it “fit for the future”.
Scale and capacity as a benchmark to fitness is a “hoax”, Mr Kennedy exclaimed. “There is no evidence that bigger is better. No evidence financially. The State Government can’t come up with any and it has been asked on many occasions. And with a bigger council we will lose what makes us local, what is important to us; our lifestyle and our beautiful environment.”
In fact there is lots of evidence to show that councils between 40,000 and 70,000 residents are financially fitter than their big brothers, explained Mona Vale Resident Association President Marcia Rackman.
Not only are bigger councils not fitter financially, they struggle to represent the local residents, added Storm Jacklin also representing Pittwater Forever.
“You don’t have far to look for evidence of this,” said Mr Jacklin. “It is some of the bigger councils in Sydney which struggle, which can’t represent its peoples values and allow developers and other organisation to run rough shot over local needs.”
Tony Tenny, Chairman of Pittwater Forever and CABPRA's Secretary, said it was so good to see so may passionate residents at the meeting. “We must maintain the passion. We must contact to our state representative. We must write to IPART. We must retain the rage!”
At the end of the meeting Mr Kennedy made a motion that “Pittwater remains as is on its present boundaries and says no to any merger”. This was seconded by our previous Mayor Harvey Rose. There was an addition that “the State government makes no forced amalgamations without consulting the people”.
The yell of Aye resonated through the packed auditorium. The vote was carried unanimously.
United front at public meeting on amalgamation
20 May 2015
Pittwater residents unanimous in their voice for ‘no change to Pittwater Council or its borders without community support’.
Over 350 residents attended yesterday’s public meeting which saw an overwhelming backlash against the NSW Government’s proposed Council amalgamation plans as part of its ‘Fit for the Future’ program.
The meeting, held at Pittwater RSL Mona Vale, opened with the Hon. Rob Stokes MP stating his support for Pittwater Council and its’ good governance historically, whilst calling for Council to be willing to take on the challenge of expanding upon this in the future.
“This is an opportunity to say; Can change benefit us? Make our community stronger? Safer and better? And if so, that is a good thing,” he maintained.
Mr Stokes agreed that while some of the reasons Pittwater saw itself separating from Warringah remain valid today, “the Pittwater boundary does not make complete sense, as it divides a catchment in two, and from an environmental perspective this does not encourage good or inexpensive environmental outcomes. Better to manage catchments holistically,” he stated.
Ian Kennedy spokesperson for ‘Pittwater Forever’ summed up the sentiment of the meeting in stating “ …we feel betrayed by the politicians as we are in a process assessed by IPART, which is a sham,… there is no evidence that amalgamation provides better community values.”
Marcia Rackham, spokesperson for Mona Vale Residents Association stated,
“…we do not wish to return to the inefficiencies of Warringah and unsympathetic developments” and in saying no to any change “We are not being elitist, we are being true to ourselves and our environment,” she insisted.
Pittwater Council’s General Manager Mark Ferguson called for calm stating “this is not a campaign yet, it is community engagement. Effective community engagement and consultation is of the utmost importance”, Mr Ferguson stated.
A key outcome of the meeting saw the 350 residents put forward a motion, carried unanimously, for:
Pittwater to remain as we are without any boundary changes, and amended this by calling for reaffirmation of the Government’s pledge that there be no forced amalgamations.
Mayor Jacqui Townsend concluded proceedings in reaffirming the commitment of Pittwater Council to its residents in providing local representation and delivery of local services.
Cr Townsend urged “Please do not underestimate the importance of your voice in this process” and encouraged the community to continue to have their say.
Residents unable to attend the meeting are encouraged to go online have your say via the online survey on our website, www.pittwater.nsw.gov.au/reform .
If you haven’t already, contact your councillors individually.
Residents Urged To Have Their Say On Local Government Review
22 May 2015
Member for Pittwater Rob Stokes today confirmed his support for Pittwater Council and said he is eager to learn of its long-term plans for greater efficiencies and improvements.
Pittwater Council is currently undertaking community consultation as part of the state-wide review of NSW’s 152 local governments and their long-term sustainability.
“This is a rare opportunity for residents to discuss how Pittwater Council might be able to improve and provide even better services and infrastructure,” Rob Stokes said today.
“For the first time ever, all of NSW’s 152 Councils are having this tough but beneficial discussion with their local residents and community groups.
“Pittwater Council does a good job - but it would be terribly naive for anyone to suggest there’s nothing it can do better.
“Governments, community groups, schools and businesses of all sizes are always looking at ways to improve and prosper – so why shouldn’t Councils do the same?
“It’s disappointing there’s a group that’s trying to completely whitewash this golden opportunity for residents to discuss how our local council may be able to improve.
“This isn’t an opportunity to be frightened or nervous about – it’s an opportunity to engage in open and constructive discussion about Pittwater Council’s long-term future.
“I urge the community to continue voicing their opinions on how Pittwater Council might be able to improve and prosper,” Rob Stokes said.
COUNCIL AMALGAMATION & PITTWATER - PUBLIC MEETING 19 MAY 2015
Published on 28 May 2015 by Pittwater Pathways
Also this week:
SPECIAL RATE VARIATIONS FURTHER PROOF THAT LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM NEEDED
Paul Toole MP Minister for Local Government:
MEDIA RELEASE Tuesday 19 May 2015
The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) today released decisions on special rate variation applications for 2015-16; with 21 of the applications fully approved and one partially approved. Minister for Local Government Paul Toole said it was concerning that so many councils in both Sydney and regional NSW were struggling financially.
“Councils have told IPART that without significant rate increases they would not be able to provide essential services and reduce their infrastructure backlogs,” said Mr Toole.
“In the last two years alone, one third of the State’s councils have asked ratepayers to pay more. Councils are advising IPART these rate rises are to repair infrastructure and that they would be financially unsustainable without them.”
“This is not viable in the long-term.” Minister Toole said the NSW Government had been working in partnership with councils on its Fit for the Future reforms.
“The Fit for the Future reform process aims to ensure councils are able to deliver more infrastructure, better services and put downward pressure on rates.
“We’re trying to strengthen the local government sector so we have a better system of local government and to ensure mums, dads, families and pensioners don’t continually have to pay more for basic services. “The community deserves every council in NSW to be looking at its financial sustainability, scale and capacity and asking how we can deliver a stronger, smarter local government sector for NSW,” Mr Toole said.
LG Minister disingenuous over rate rises
May 20, 2015
The Local Government sector has slammed the NSW Government as "disingenuous" for linking rate increases granted by IPART to its push for council amalgamations.
Local Government NSW President Keith Rhoades AFSM said the Government was using a problem created by it and its predecessors to justify the ideologically-driven agenda of forced council amalgamations.
"It is this Government that set the Fit for the Future financial benchmarks which Councils are now scrambling to meet via the rate variations he is so quick to attack," Clr Rhoades said.
"Rate-pegging maintained by this and previous Governments has choked Council revenue for decades.
"Yet at the same time cost shifting has moved funding responsibility for infrastructure and services off State Government books, and onto the shoulders of Local Government.
"The rate variations granted by IPART would simply not have been necessary without years and years of rate pegging and cost shifting, or if Governments had not failed to address the myriad of other problems with the Local Government funding model."
Clr Rhoades said it was particularly interesting for Mr Toole to express alarm about rates now, at the very time the Baird Government was moving to force council amalgamations.
The Baird/Toole Fit for the Future package actually offers council an easier process to increase rates as an incentive to amalgamate," he said.
"It's disingenuous, and it's duplicitous, and it shows a real contempt for the wishes of local communities," he said. "State Government created this problem, and now they're using it as cover for their hidden agenda."
Clr Rhoades said Local Government Minister Paul Toole appeared to have admitted to one Sydney radio station he was using these long overdue rate rises to justify council amalgamations.
"He's been a bit more discreet in other interviews, simply saying that the rate rises underline the need for change," Cr Rhoades said.
"What he hasn't been able to show is how forced amalgamations and will change the resourcing Catch 22 in which councils find themselves.
"The best he has been able to offer is to say Mega Councils will have better access to loans.
"But loans still have to be paid back, and rates will still have to rise to service those loans, so there's no benefit to ratepayers there."
Mr Rhoades said it had been estimated that forced amalgamations by the NSW Government would actually cost ratepayers an additional $445 million.
"Moreover, a number of councils have told us they believe amalgamation will actually lead to more rate rises, because rates will have to rise to cover any infrastructure backlogs in neighbouring councils with which they may be forced to merge."
"The Government and the Minister is being incredibly duplicitous: using a longstanding funding problem as cover for an ideologically-driven move to increase control over local communities and neighbourhoods.
"What we should all be asking is who wins in this scenario? It's not residents and ratepayers, no matter what the Minister might be claiming today."
2015-16 SPECIAL RATE VARIATION DECISIONS FOR 22 COUNCILS
19 May 2015: IPART Media Release
The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) today released decisions on special variation applications made by 22 of the 152 councils across NSW to increase the income they receive from rates.
IPART Chairman, Dr Peter Boxall said all but 1 of the applications for special variations met the assessment guidelines of the Office of Local Government and were approved in full.
One application was partially approved due to inadequate community consultation.
“While it is up to elected councils to determine whether they increase rates in line with our determinations, most approvals would lead to increases in average rates of less than $1.50 per week in 2015-16,” Dr Boxall said.
“If implemented in full, 10 of the applications approved would lead to average increases in residential rates of less than $1 a week in 2015-16 including the 2.4% rate peg, 6 approvals will lead to increases of between $1 and $1.50 a week, and 5 will increase rates by between $1.50 and $2.50 a week. The remaining council, Gwydir, has the largest increase of $3.33 a week.“
IPART approved a 15% increase for 1-year in Gwydir rather than the 32.25% increase over 2 years that the council has requested. IPART was not convinced that the community had been properly informed of the total increase in rates arising from the proposed change in rating structure. The increase for 2015-16 will be removed from the council’s rate base the following year unless the council applies for another special variation.
The largest cumulative increase approved is for Wollondilly Shire where average residential rates could increase by $1.94 a week in 2015-16. If applied in full, by 2018-19 the average residential ratepayer will pay $10.13 a week more than in 2014-15.
Dr Boxall said all councils lodging an application must demonstrate the need for the additional revenue, that their community has been appropriately engaged and that the council is taking steps to improve productivity and contain council costs.
IPART also considers each council’s long-term financial plan and the impact of the variation on affected ratepayers.
“Special variations are designed to give councils the flexibility to generate additional income above the rate peg to meet their specific needs,” Dr Boxall said.
“Under the current system, the rate peg ensures that the general revenue councils are able to collect is in line with any changes in their costs. Set at 2.4% for 2015-16, the rate peg is not designed to allow for improvements in services, improving a council’s financial position or to fund capital works.”
“The special rate variation process is open to councils that need additional funds to address these needs, as long as they meet the assessment criteria.”
“We expect that councils have listened to their communities and considered their capacity and willingness to pay prior to applying to IPART. Councils are closer to their communities, and while IPART may approve a special variation, it is up to the councils to decide whether to implement it in full,” Dr Boxall said.
IPART has granted special variations in 2015-16 for the following councils:
Ashfield, Gloucester, Mosman, Wakool, Ballina, Greater Hume, Narromine, Weddin, Blue Mountains, Gwydir, Newcastle, Willoughby, Coffs Harbour, Jerilderie, Oberon, Wollondilly, Deniliquin, Kyogle, City of Ryde, Eurobodalla, Marrickville. Shoalhaven
IPART has attached conditions to the approvals requiring that the additional income be used for the purposes outlined in the application and that councils report to their communities each year about how the additional revenue is spent.
Applications for increasing minimum rates were approved for Gundagai and Kyogle Councils. In addition, Crown Land adjustments were approved for Kyogle, Port Stephens and Wingecarribee Councils.
Details of the special variation requested by each council and IPART’s determinations are in the attached fact sheet*. Full reports can be found on IPART’s website www.ipart.nsw.gov.au.
*You can read full attached sheet on IPART's website.
Jun 30, 2014: IPART
Warringah Council applied for a multi-year special variation from 2014/15, under section 508A. The council requested annual increases of 6.1%, 6.0%, 6.0% and 5.9% over 4 years for a cumulative increase of 26.25% by 2017/18.
After assessing its application, we decided that the council has not sufficiently demonstrated a need for an increase of this magnitude. Instead, we have approved a special variation that better reflects the need and the preferences of the community. We have approved annual increases of 3.1%, 3.0%, 3.0% and 9.4% for the years 2014/15 to 2017/18.
We made this decision under section 508A of the Act
From Issue 214's Community News Page:
Local Government Reforms – A Few of this Week’s Updates
If you’re beginning to hear the Ride Of The Valkyries theme from Apocalypse Now (envisioning the scene of the helicopter bombing of a beach so some may surf), every time you hear more and more about this, you’re not alone.
A few of this weeks Developments:
NSW Govt tips its hand on forced amalgamations
May 15, 2015 - LGNSW
The NSW Government has finally tipped its hand after the Minister for Local Government today told Parliament the Government would not support a motion against forced amalgamations, Local Government NSW (LGNSW) said today.
LGNSW President Keith Rhoades said the statement was the first time the Government had revealed its true intentions for the future of Local Government.
The admission came during yesterday's debate on a motion by Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, that "This House opposes the amalgamation of councils that are financially sustainable and have the support of their communities".
"That debate was crunch time, and Local Government Paul Toole stood on the floor of the Parliament and stated unequivocally that the Government would not support a motion opposing the forced amalgamation of councils," Clr Rhoades said.
"It really does suggest that the whole Fit for the Future process is simply tick-a-box, with the Government firmly committed to diluting local democratic representation for purely ideological reasons."
MP Alex Greenwich described the Fit for the Future program as "a farce, so the Government can claim it consulted and assessed".
"It was instructive to see the arguments trotted out against the motion, which included claims that amalgamations would "drive down rates", that "bigger is better", and that forced amalgamation is "a dead-set non-issue" for our communities." Cr Rhoades said.
"It was also interesting how often speakers against the motion adopted a straw man argument, suggesting that the Local Government sector was opposed to any kind of reform.
"I can assure the community and the Government this is not the case: Local Government welcomes reform that genuinely improves outcomes for residents and ratepayers.
"What the sector does not support is amalgamations being forced on Councils who are able to show they are financially sustainable, and whose communities have stated clearly that they wish to continue to have grass roots representation via stand alone Councils."
MPs who spoke against forced amalgamations during the debate included Guy Zangari (Fairfield, ALP), Jamie Parker (Balmain, Grn), Greg Piper (Lake Macquarie, Ind), Jodie Harrison (Charlestown, ALP; LGNSW Board Member), and Jenny Leong (Newtown, Grn).
Government MPs who spoke against the motion, supporting forced amalgamations, included Liberal MPs Geoff Lee (Parramatta), Gareth Ward (Kiama), John Sidoti (Drummoyne) and Ray Williams (Castle Hill).
FIT FOR THE FUTURE - IPART HEARS COUNCIL AND COMMUNITY VIEWS
15 May 2015: IPART Media Release
The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) will take account of the views of local councils and their communities in determining how council proposals under the NSW Government’s Fit for the Future reforms will be assessed.
Dozens of people attended a forum in Dubbo today following a similar forum in Sydney on Monday to discuss IPART’s Methodology for Assessment of Council Fit for the Future Proposals Consultation Paper published late last month. Public forums will be held in Coffs Harbour and Wagga Wagga next week.
IPART Chairman Dr Peter Boxall said the forums provide an invaluable opportunity to hear first hand local views about how the Fit for the Future proposals will be assessed.
“We want the process to be transparent so councils are aware what they need to do and can
consult with their communities accordingly,” Dr Boxall said.
“The Fit for the Future criteria have already been set by the NSW Government and were announced last year.
“We are not revisiting the criteria – that is outside the scope of this review - but we are interested views about how to best assess whether councils meet those criteria and provide that advice to government.”
Dr Boxall said it is up to each council to determine the best way forward to address their specific needs and challenges.
“Councils are able to put forward proposals that do not match the recommendations of the
Independent Local Government Review Panel in 2014, but would have to provide a sound argument as to why that’s not the best option in their case, except in the case of far west councils that are not required to put forward a proposal for assessment,” Dr Boxall said.
Submissions on the Consultation Paper will be received until 25 May 2015. A copy of the Consultation Paper and information about how to make submissions can be found on the IPART websitewww.ipart.nsw.gov.au.
If you would like to find this Media Release it's filed on the IPART Local Govt. Review page under '31 Dec 9999' - you will have to download and open it to get the correct title and date.
Forced Amalgamation Agenda Revealed
14 May 2015
During debate on a motion moved by Independent Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich, the government finally exposed it intends to force councils to merge regardless of their financially sustainability and community support within existing boundaries, after it skirted around the issue before the election.
Mr Greenwich’s motion called on the House to oppose forced amalgamations of councils that are financially sustainable and have the support of their communities.
“Amalgamations will lead to significant service and system disruptions, increased costs, lost efficiencies and reduced representation, and most benefits are achievable within exiting boundaries through sharing resources and services.
“There can be no justification to force amalgamations on councils that are sustainable and whose communities do not agree to an amalgamation; if the government is sincere in helping financially struggling councils, its focus would be on other reforms identified by the Sansom review.
“The government’s focus on forced amalgamations over any other reforms, shows that its “fit for the future” program was merely a disguise for its true agenda while being a massive waste of councils’ time and resources.
“Evaluations ignore councils’ social and community benefits because these will be eroded under a mega-councils model,” Mr Greenwich said.
During debate Mr Greenwich called on the government to remove opportunities for corruption and undue influence in local government given larger councils could increase these opportunities.
“Mega councils will mean bigger election campaigns and a greater need to raise funds, yet local government elections have lax rules with no donation caps and inadequate disclosure requirements despite council decisions ability to deliver massive private benefit.
“Local government must cease to be plaything subject to sackings, mergers and de-amalgamations for state government political advantage and should once and for all be recognised in the constitution with democracy protected,” Mr Greenwich concluded.
Motion was listed on May 12th according to HANSARD trasncripts, and listed there by Hon. Shoebridge
Legislative Council Notice Paper No. 4—Thursday 14 May 2015 106
56. Mr Shoebridge to move—
1. That this House supports the right of members of communities to determine the future of their own local councils.
2. That this House opposes the forced amalgamations of councils that are financially sustainable and have the support of their communities
- (Notice given 12 May 2015—expires Notice Paper No. 22)
As you may have read elsewhere this was Motion was struck down by Local Government Minister Hon. Toole, backed by his party.
More on the Public Forum from one who sat through it all and has led our community in many a push for sanity:
IPART meeting report: rates WILL go up
MAY 14, 2015
Storm Jacklin, our outgoing President, reports on the discussion with IPART and highlights the urgency of community action – read his account and see the action points below.
I attended the meeting on Monday morning called by IPART to discuss their terms of reference.
The full panel plus a secretariat were present. The chair is Dr Peter Boxall. There were about 45/50 people there representing councils ,local government, and some community groups. Julie Hegarty was there from Pittwater along with Jane Mulrony. No doubt some of you were listening on line although the power failure may have interfered with that.
My summary was that the meeting was very – and I mean very – unsatisfactory for all concerned. Councillors seeking clarification got no answers. Nor did anyone else. The chair took multiple questions without giving answer. When pulled up for not giving answers he said that it was a consultation possess and that they were not there to give answers from the chair. All comments would be considered. He was questioned on the 5 days to review that IPART would have to review the submissions on methodology he agreed that it was tight for them too but the time table was set by the government.
The chair outlined that they had to be finished their work by Sept/Oct and they did not know what the government would do with the recommendations. Representatives of community groups Mosman, Hunters hill, Leichardt, Strathfield were present and asked good questions particularly in relation to the imbalance and emphasis on finance. There was a resident from Warringah there who asked a number of good questions and was well across the subject trying to ascertain how IPART would assess interest on developer contributions and how valuation of assets would be treated when one council valued roads at $1.3 million per K while the one next door valued roads at $800000 per k.
He also asked that as IPART had already granted Warringah a levy of 6% to start in year 2016/17 if amalgamation took place would that apply to the new council. The chair refused to answer this and said it was up to the new council. So you can bet that any new council will carry through with the levy. To me this was the most important thing to come out of the day. We already know that if Warringah and Pittwater are put together that due to size etc. Warringah rates will go down and Pittwater’s will go up; this has now been confirmed twice verbally by Mark Ferguson as well as in writing.
So on the evidence of it, amalgamation for Pittwater will mean rate increases of close to 10%.
To me this is the most important message for everyone in the community to know when they Vote.
Please take action NOW to prevent amalgamation:
1. Complete Pittwater Council’s online survey and vote NO to amalgamation – a couple of minutes of your time will make ALL the difference – click here now.
And now, the Public 'Forum'
From Issue 213:
Councils are required to provide IPART with their FFTF proposals by 30 June 2015. The proposals should show how councils meet the FFTF criteria of scale and capacity, sustainability, effective infrastructure and service management, and efficiency.
A copy of the transcript and webcast will be available on IPART’s website within a week following the public forum. –now available at: HERE
From this, as this is what many were drawn to most when reading through these documents (page 21: )prior to the Public Forum on threshold 'scale and capacity' applied to 'population size' :
Darcy:] Thanks mate. Darcy Byrne, Leichhardt Councillor. If I could just return as I think about a dozen people have so far to the slide about minimum scale and capacity. If we could just slide back to that. Yep, appropriate minimum population size. So I don’t want to verbal you, but it seems pretty clear we're not going to get an answer about that today. Following this consultation process‐
[Chairman:] About, about what again?
[Darcy:] About what the figure is for an appropriate minimum population size. About fifteen
people have asked, and‐
[Chairman:] No, you're not going to get an answer today, and indeed that's been raised as an
issue. This is a consultation process, so just a second. This is a consultation process.
Those issues have been raised by somebody in reference to page 21, and we're taking on board that a number of you guys, and no doubt you'll put it in your submissions, are not happy with that, and‐
[Darcy:] So can I get a commitment that once you've concluded the consultation on the methodology, that this will be specified before we have to put our submissions in?
That's my first question.
Does this mean ‘Yes’ an answer, finally, to the figure set for minimum population size or ‘yes’ what is your next question, that yes means:
[Darcy:] Secondly just to raise, to build on the point that Monica made previously, which I don’t think was quite answered. So in Leichhardt's case we're envisaging that we'll make a submission explaining that we can meet all seven of the criteria by 2016‐18.
But there's likely to be a number of the other Councils in the six that we're potentially proposed to merge with who don’t meet the seven criteria. Will your methodology be that you'll say "Okay, Leichhardt's proven its case", or will it be the case that you'll say "Hold on a second, these surrounding Councils, their viability could be strengthened by being merged with an entity that is in itself viable, and therefore that would discount from their argument about standing alone".
[Chairman:] Thank you Darcy. So hypothetically, right, because this is all hypothetical yet. If Leichhardt and five or six other Councils are in a group, or for that matter any other recommendation by the Panel was for say five Councils to merge, if one Council puts in a submission and says "Well, we don’t want our, we don’t want to merge, we reckon we can go it alone", right, we will assess your application to go it alone, and deem you fit or unfit, irrespective of what's happening of the Councils around you.
[Darcy:] And just in relation to the first question about will we get clarity about the minimum population size once this consultation is concluded, but prior to making our submissions?
[Chairman:] The answer to that was yes, and it remains yes.
May 13 2015 - Temporary 4 month opportunity
IPART have now placed under ‘News’ the news that they are now seeking Senior Analysts and Analysts for the FFTF – See advert and links to Job Description folks if you want to change things from the inside…. better get in quick though, that opportunity closes May 24th:)!
Meanwhile….an extract from a Sydney Morning Herald article of Friday May 15th by Anne Davies, clearly a lady who is a fan of Shakespeare and the doomed prince Hamlet (who went quite mad), under the title of “To merge or not to merge: Councils pop the question as deadline approaches” :
Pittwater mayor Jacqueline Townsend, an independent, puts a cogent case for staying solo.
"We are an agile, progressive, community council. We have very strong community leadership and we deliver the services our community expects," she says.
But despite that preference, Pittwater and Manly have jointly funded a study on options that include an alternative proposal to dismember Warringah, the council sandwiched between them, to form two larger councils of about 100,000 each.
"Warringah has been dismissed twice and people in Pittwater are concerned about how they manage the built form," says Townsend. "The only way to improve performance is to get rid of the difficult bureaucracy in the middle and form two councils."
And as we hold our breath for clarity, in fact exacting numbers, on ‘minimum population size’, among other ‘what, exactly, do you mean?’ our eyes are firmly leveled on another little item that appears in Transcripts from Parliament on that fateful day when the just reelected NSW Government showed the hand of cards they’re currently holding, a small item regarding chaining yourself in protest to things and making that not something you may do anymore… mining protestors take note!
And wonder if those provisions, and making them law, may be extended by incremental words that remain defining less than what must remain obtuse, just in case and lest we all march on Macquarie street muttering other obdurate and negating and ... other profane words in meaningless lingo.
To close a possible ‘Sign of the Times’ courtesy of the Mona Vale Residents Association, also from Friday, and spoken of as we went to Press last night
"Sadly this sign only lasted one day at the beginning of the Wakehurst Parkway. So I shall install it here for posterity!"
Consider it done, citizen, of Pittwater:
Report and Pictures by A J Guesdon, 2015.