If I were tasked with reviewing local government (councils) throughout the state, it would be in my best interests to write something that maintained centralised state power. It’s called keeping your job.
As Leonard Cohen sang, ‘Everybody knows that the dice are loaded.’’
Yes, my report would hose down accusations by councils of state cost-shifting and promote amalgamation of local governments.
And that’s exactly what we have in the local government review, which was released last week. Presumably it provides the region’s state representative (Nationals) and local government MP Don Page with the mandate to promote those recommendations.
Amalgamating shires has never been popular and is of questionable benefit. The Queensland shires of Noosa, Douglas, Mareeba and Livingstone reversed their decision to amalgamate with surrounding shires last year.
As for cost shifting, the state government refuses to explain to The Echo why it won’t return the Brunswick Heads caravan parks and reserves it stole from Byron Council, despite proof it resulted in our local government being financially worse off.
Of course the state wants to maintain power and will take more power from local government/community at every opportunity.
It’s something that is achieved with an uninformed public and complicit media.
But if the state’s 152 councils were to commission a review instead into the NSW government, would that result in better cost savings and efficiency outcomes for the public?
The rorting in NSW Rail, the belligerent NSW Forestry Corporation and the toxic North Coast Holiday Parks would be a great start.
If you look closely, there’s a sentence that remarkably made it into this local government report: ‘People appear satisfied with the performance of local government – more so than with state and federal governments.’
The state’s constant power grabs only help to reinforce that view.