Public backs council amalgamations

Yet another statewide public opinion poll has revealed that the overwhelming majority of South Australians support council amalgamations.

Of the 4,000 respondents to the Sunday Mail’s annual Your Say survey, 63.9% of South Australians believe that there are too many councils, too many bureaucrats and too many sets of rules, and would support a “super council” for the wider Adelaide area. Only 36.1% of respondents believe that councils should remain as they are.

This poll follows the release last month of landmark research commissioned by the Property Council of Australia modelling a reduction in statewide councils from 68 to 32. As part of this modelling, metropolitan council boundaries would be recast to create nine councils rather than the existing 19.

SA Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia Daniel Gannon is calling on the State Government and Opposition to throw their support behind local government reform.

“At a time when South Australia’s policy-makers are debating future opportunities like nuclear energy, we need to continue to be bold and examine the role of local government,” he said.

“This latest poll confirms for politicians that council amalgamations can now be taken out of the ‘political too hard basket’ and should rightly be pursued on merit.

“The ACIL Allen report released last month revealed that a reduction in councils from 68 to 32 would deliver savings to councils and the community of around $65 million per annum and result in a total benefit of $505 million.

“What is now clear is that the benefits of recasting council boundaries substantially outweigh the costs, and we know that 64% of South Australians support this policy initiative.

“Recasting council boundaries needs to be considered to ensure every dollar of ratepayer money is wisely spent at a time when our state’s economy is struggling.”

Mr Gannon said that while there would be significant upfront costs in implementing any reforms, the benefits overwhelmingly outweigh the costs resulting in a benefit-cost ratio of 4.54.

Background information
Property is South Australia’s largest private sector employer and biggest industry, accounting for 10.8% of the state’s economic activity (or $10.5 billion). It builds prosperity by paying $4.4 billion in wages and salaries – one in six people draw their wage directly or indirectly from property – and one million South Australians have a stake in property through their super funds. Property is the largest single industry contributor paying 56.6% of state taxes, local government rates, fees and charges.

 

Media contact: Daniel Gannon |E dgannon@propertycouncil.com.au