Recent Letters to the Editor have suggested that the Labor party is in favour of forced amalgamations. This is not correct.
During the recent NSW State election campaign, both Sophie Cotsis MLC (then Shadow Minister for Local Government) and I publicly confirmed the Labor policy that “There will not be any forced amalgamations of any Councils under a Labor Government as there is little empirical evidence to suggest larger councils are more efficient." In fact, this was the third state election since 2003 that the Labor party presented this policy.
Furthermore, the current Labor Shadow Minister for Local Government Peter Primrose MLC stated as recently as 10th June, “Labor's policy remains the same as at the election - No forced amalgamations!”
There are serious shortcomings for those few people arguing the case in favour of larger councils. Firstly, IPART has failed to provide any modelling or examples to prove that bigger councils actually provide long-term cost savings or improved public services. Secondly, at the recent public forum held by Lane Cove Council, nearly 80% of residents were opposed to merging with neighbouring councils.
When NSW Government MPs such as Andrew Constance are on the public record stating Sydney “should have five councils at best”, pursuing forced council amalgamations against the wishes of the community surely questions the motives behind the drive for larger councils and whom the real beneficiaries will be?