Local, Politics

Super Council? No this isn’t a Super Council. Yet!

 A ‘Super Council’ made up of the Coffs Harbour City, Bellingen Shire, Clarence Valley, Kempsey Shire, Nambucca Shire and Port Macquarie Hastings Councils.  How do you feel about that?

By ‘The Contrarian’

 

Recently the Coffs Coast Advocate ran a story about a looming deadline that the Coffs Harbour City Council (CHCC) had to meet to satisfy requests from the State Government about being part of a new ‘Super Council’.  Earlier in February The Advocate also ran another story  headed; ‘Will we soon be governed by a new super council?’

Both articles appear to infer, at least from their headlines, that forced Council amalgamations are back on the agenda in the regions.  Certainly some of the comments published below the stories clearly show that is how it has been understood by some readers.

But are forced amalgamations back on the agenda?  And if so how did they get this far without consultation and more media coverage?

Well the answer to my first question above is ‘No’.  Forced Council amalgamations are not currently happening in the regions in NSW.  What is happening is that regional NSW Councils are being asked by the State Government to respond to proposals the regional Councils form what is known as a Joint Organisation.

The State government explains that Joint Organisations (JOs) are “a key NSW Government commitment to build stronger councils and improve service delivery and infrastructure across rural and regional communities.

The Local Government Amendment (Regional Joint Organisations) Act 2017 commenced on 15 December 2017 allowing councils to voluntarily join new JOs in their planning region.”

JO’s are designed to provide a forum for local councils and State agencies to collaborate, plan, set priorities and deliver regionally significant important projects.

The NSW Government is providing a rather miserly $3.3 million in seed funding to establish JOs which they say will focus on the issues that matter most to regional communities. These could include building stronger businesses, creating jobs, securing water supplies, improving regional transport, or providing community infrastructure, services and facilities.

Now I can see issues here.  Is the geographic area too big?  Could oversize egos get in the way?  Will the JOs be able to logically prioritise and operationalise their key issues?  There’s quite a few more.

But at this point the Councils need to let the State Government know by 28 February if they wish to participate in the proposed Mid-North Coast JOs or not.  The CHCC has asked for an extension on the 28 February date.  Which is not the ‘greatest look’ given the proposals and work on it has been ongoing for over the best part of a year now.  Still maybe it is better to spend a little more time on it.

An excellent article in the Nambucca Guardian News highlights the Nambucca Shire Council has voted to be part of the Mid North Coast JOs. The Bellingen Shire Council also discussed it at its meeting of 30 January, wherein, according to The Courier-Sun  the Mayor, Cr King, spoke in favour of the proposed MNC-JOs and “emphasised the benefits of joint buying power, regional advocacy and improved delivery of infrastructure and services”.

So the proposed JOs has some potential upside in regards to economies of scale which I think ratepayers would approve of given the constant rise in rates over the years  many of which have been well in advance of the inflation rate..

But a ‘Super Council’, the result of some forced amalgamation, this is not.  The Advocate’s headlines on this have been pretty misleading in my opinion.

Sure, those wary of forced council amalgamations after the State Governments last botched attempt at them need to be wary. “This is a slippery slope to an amalgamated council” Councillor David Jones said in Nambucca.  It might be unless you make 100% sure it isn’t a tool to make that happen.

 

The Contrarian has lived on the Coffs Coast for 21 years.  Among a number of other things during that time  he/she  has also worked as a consultant on regional projects with the private sector and also with Councils in the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales and New Zealand. She/he previously wrote articles for the old Outlook on matters pertaining to local government.

7 Comments

  1. Why should we believe or even have the smallest amount of confidence in the words from someone who seems intent on remaining anonymous? Until this person is willing to be identified, they should probably also remain silent.

  2. I’m willing to bet it all has to do with confidentiality agreements with Councils Don. It’s a very good point you make but having done work for some of them in the past I found the confidentiality clauses in some of their contracts both bizarre and restrictive. But if you want the money you are not always in the strongest of positions to haggle..

    Having said that in my experience most of them have ‘sunset clauses’ that mean eventually you can ’emerge into the open and blinking in the sun’. I note Mr/Ms Contrarian did use a lot of hyperlinks so as to give backing to what they said though.

    On the other hand I suppose they could have used a false name like ‘John or Jane Doe’ and no one would have been any the wiser?

  3. I find it hard to think a person has to be identified to be believed or that the author really wants you to believe her /him. It is not a person you have to believe in it is the facts surrounding the matter. Super-links are given for the reader to check the source out and to make up their own mind. There are many prepared to be identified but this does guarantee I will believe them without first verifying the comment.
    In any case people are entitled to their point of view but I put the following real life case to you.
    I was “asked” to be an unpaid volunteer. Council wanted me to “apply” for the unpaid job but I had to sign an agreement not to comment on Council operations or policy. In short. unpaid and gagged. Well so much for freedom of speech – I think not. In my case I was unprepared to do so. What if I wanted to object to a decision council made. Sure council is identified but it does not mean I believe what they say.
    And I reserve the right to submit this under an alias – just as the terms set out I can do.

  4. Well said!

    It’s all a bit like calling you a racist, homophobe or climate denier should you dare fail to conform to their latest bell whistle. None of the facts matter because Leftists are not interested in facts … only your agreement that they are better placed than you to decide how you should live (and you’d better show your thanks for it too!)

    Past “conversations” on the old Coffs Outlook with a certain Greens councillor proved the point in spades.

  5. Grant (Acting Editor/Administratorr)

    I wonder where Mark is these days Andrew? 🙂

    PS: Feel free to submit articles as in the past.

  6. Will do Grant. Maybe you could put a “contribute here” button on the site’s front page, and in the meantime shoot me an email so I know where to send them.

  7. Grant (Acting Editor/Administrator)

    Hi Andrew,

    Just email them to contact@coffscoastoutlook.com.au – I check that email 3 or 4 times a week. It will be fine.

    Cheers,

    Grant

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