The Marriage of Councils

Studio shot of three hands holding one anotherThe Independent Local Review Panel into local government has put out an initial report that suggests councils need to amalgamate. One time Victorian Premier, Mr. Jeff Kennett, has stated that local government needs to get bigger and that State Government needs to be abolished. (Sydney Morning Hearld, Saturday 27th April, 2013).

I imagine he is thinking of a system like that in the U.S. of A. I agree with him and basically said this to some senior management in Orange a few years ago. I tried to have the Council record their Council meetings and have an edited version replayed on Orange Community Radio. Alas councillors disagreed. They felt I was going to use it to embarrass councillors or they were going to be liable for verbal comments made.

The idea behind this was that by hearing the goings on at Council meetings the electorate would get a better understanding and appreciation of the candidates. Plus the extra exposure would force everyone, not only the councillors, to polish up their act. In the long term we would receive professional representation.

I mean lets look at the second site for a McDonalds. The land is owned by council and yet council did not “fix” the intersection before considering the idea of a fast food outlet in the precinct. We already have the 5 Ways so council probably thought another like that in North Orange was a necessity.

Back to amalgamation. It will lift the standard of representation on councils. It will cause some or lots of anxiety but change does that to people. It will save on equipment and personnel where there is a double up. However this will be offset by the need for more people in other areas. Yes easy to say when no figures and actual facts are produced. All airy fairy really at this point I agree. Therefore let us hope that Cabonne, Orange and Blayney put a team of people together who believe in this and some who are against it to nut out the issues.

I must say the roads in Victoria are superb compared to NSW. Yes NSW is bigger and therefore more roads more money needed etc, etc. Maybe Kennett did the right thing so long as small towns did not get negatively affected, something that NSW councils yelled a lot about at the time to suppress the idea of amalgamation.

Finally, and you may consider that I am pulling a long bow here but, society has changed a great deal. Hawke, Keating and Howard instigated a warped cultural shift from an egalitarian society to one where every person is a business unto themselves. Life is all about productivity, getting more for less, user pays, remove deficiency, “is it economically viable”, choose the cheaper option not the best option, save, save, save. And whatever happens do it quickly, don’t waste time. Competition now is very aggressive and it is in all areas of life not simply the playing field.

Will we go the way of the Japanese? They reached a point with their policy of increased productivity and efficiency that they fell apart economically and physically. That was more than ten years ago. A person and society can only jump so high before you keep hitting your head against the bar.

How does that effect amalgamation of Council? If not done properly many people will be unnecessarily hurt. It needs to be carried out slowly and efficiently not some dodgy job just so an admin big noter can “tick a box” on a computer screen or spreadsheet.

Category: Local


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Article by: John Da Rin

Current Treasurer of Orange Ratepayers' Association Inc & member of Colour City Creatives Inc. Born 1955, the year of the Chiko Roll. Arrived in Australia 1960. Educated by FNQ nuns & brothers and in 1968 by the hash N.S.W. public system. Achieved H.S.C. then soon turned into a World traveler. Overland Katmandu to London in 1978. Six months in Europe, then around South America anti clockwise, Bogota back to Bogota. Four months of amazement. You must go to Iguazu Falls, Machu Piccu & Buenos Aires - the Paris of the Southern Hemisphere. Followed by three months in the U.S.A. I have a Commerce degree from UNE, semi-retired and love philosophy & theology as they are a product of the human mind; motorcycles & listening to Radio National.