Fit for the Future

Uh oh. I know what you’re thinking. “Did he amalgamate six councils or only five?” Well to tell you the truth in all this excitement I kinda lost track myself. But being this is a 17 seat majority government, with the most powerful electoral mandate in the world and recommendations from an independent panel that would blow your Council clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?

A rigid template of what constitutes fitness for the future is being hammered onto the 152 local government areas and no-one really knows how things will look when the dust settles. Probably not even the Government.

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Yes, yes, we know this is all lifted from our May issue but we still love the image and the tampering with Dirty Harry’s famous line, but the dust is settling and we know how many of NSW’s 152 councils are looking at the prospect of not being around in their current shape by the middle of the year.

75. There are 75 councils affected by 35 merger proposals. Seven councils (Auburn, Holroyd, Jerilderie, Palerang, Parramatta, The Hills and Warringah) are affected by two competing proposals each. And just so everyone knows, here are the 75 listed alphabetically:

Armidale Dumeresq, Ashfield, Auburn
Bankstown, Bathurst, Berrigan, Blayney, Bombala, Boorowa, Botany Bay, Burwood
Cabonne, Canada Bay, Canterbury, Conargo, Cooma-Monaro, Cootamundra, Corowa
Deniliquin, Dubbo, Dungog
Gloucester, Gosford, Goulburn Mulwaree, Gundagai, Guyra
Harden, Hawkesbury, Holroyd, Hornsby, Hunters Hill, Hurstville
Jerilderie
Kiama, Kogarah, Ku-ring-gai
Lane Cove, Leichhardt, Lockhart
Manly, Marrickville, Mosman, Murray, Murrumbidgee
Newcastle, North Sydney
Oberon, Orange
Palerang, Parramatta, Pittwater, Port Stephens
Queanbeyan
Randwick, Rockdale, Ryde
Shellharbour, Shoalhaven, Snowy River, Strathfield
Tamworth Regional, The Hills, Tumbarumba, Tumut
Urana
Wakool, Walcha, Warringah, Waverley, Wellington, Willoughby, Wollongong, Woollahra, Wyong
Young

These councils are now in the “proposal period”. The Minister for Local Government has appointed “delegates” who have been delegated with the responsibility of conducting a brief public hearing process and then making recommendations to the (as yet not reconstituted) Boundaries Commission.

It’s January, and we really would all prefer to be a little bit more relaxed (and not so rainy or unpredictable), but for the 75 councils affected, their futures are on the line.

And being January, rather than burden you with vast amounts of information, we will provide you with some links that will allow you to find out as much as you individually need.

The council boundaries review website, where you can read about the process that lies ahead and the timetable anticipated and even enter your own Council, or any other Council you may be interested in, to see how it is affected and what is proposed.

The “instrument of delegation” which, pursuant to section 745 (1) of the Local government Act delegates the role of examining and reporting on the proposals and anything else incidental to that. If you are affected, these are the people responsible for the investigation and any recommendation. 

Preparing for Change - Guidance for Councils, prepared by Premier & Cabinet and presented to councils and general managers in a session we didn’t get invited to on 7 January.

Presentation to General Managers, also prepared by Premier & Cabinet and presented to the same session on 7 January.

The Government is also keen to introduce what they’re calling “Phase 1” amendments to the Local Government Act. This paper was released on the Fit for the Future website to accompany the appointment of delegates on the establishment of the process. The Premier made it clear that he was enthusiastic about having changes to the Act prior to the establishment of any new entities arising from the Fit for the Future process.

Here is a link to those proposed amendments. The proposals only affect employment of GMs and senior staff - and then not badly. Three proposals focus on reinforcing the separation of power between councillors and the GM and ensuring that the GM is involved in decision-making on the organisation structure and proposing to remove the requirement to annually report on the conditions of employment of senior staff because everyone is now on the standard contract.

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