Bipartisan support required for local government reform

In the wake of the South East Councils Feasibility Study prepared by KPMG and released today, Property Council Executive Director TAS Brian Wightman has laid down the gauntlet to the major political parties in Tasmania.

“There are no more excuses left, the Government, Labor and Legislative Councillors must act in the best interest of rate-payers.

“We need to know where they stand on the question of local government reform,” he said.

The Property Council has long made the case for council amalgamations in Tasmania, and the KPMG study adds weight to existing research and opinion polling.

“$7.6 million per annum in savings can not, and should not be ignored.

“That’s rate-payers’ money which could be re-invested in better, more equitable and wider-ranging services,” he said.

The Property Council acknowledged that it was now time for bipartisan support to make council reform a priority.

“The Labor Party along with Legislative Councillors must join with the Government and drive this reform outside of an election cycle.

“The Property Council has been polling the issue with EMRS consistently since 2010 and there continues to be strong support for council reform in Tasmania.

“In our latest June 2016 polling, the majority of respondents (70 per cent) agreed that 29 councils for a population of 510,000 people was too many.

“It’s time for reform, and it’s time for our political leaders to act in the best interest of rate-payers by working together to ensure that council amalgamations become a reality,” he said.

Mr. Wightman acknowledged the savings would be found at the back-end of council operations rather than forward facing staff that provide support to rate-payers.

“An amalgamated South East Council will ensure that rates move in accordance with CPI, and services remain at very least the same, however the savings will result in opportunities for improvement across all facets of council delivery,” he said.