Brian Dollery writes in The Conversation (31.3.16) about the NSW government’s proposal to merge several local councils in Sydney and regional parts of that state. The author draws comparisons with Queensland’s experience of forced council amalgamations in 2008.
‘Hard-pressed ratepayers in New South Wales and Queensland need no reminding of the perils of municipal amalgamation. NSW experienced a sharp dose of forced mergers in 2004. Queenslanders underwent draconian council consolidation under the Beattie government [sic] in 2008.
‘NSW is now on the cusp of a further round of mergers being inflicted on unwilling councils.
‘In all three cases, the architects of compulsory amalgamation have been under the sway of the dogma that “bigger is better” in local government. Ratepayers are told amalgamation will herald a new dawn of lower rates, cheaper services, improved service quality, enhanced financial viability and superior administration and planning.
‘In NSW, the Baird government has especially emphasised the financial advantages of municipal amalgamation. These claims are typically presented as the outcome of careful research and deliberation.’