NSW needs to urgently change direction and stop following Victoria down the disastrous road of council amalgamations, the United Services Union said today.
Local Government Minister Don Page has today revealed that "everything", including amalgamations, is on the table for the Local Government Review Panel, announced yesterday.
USU General Secretary Graeme Kelly said NSW must avoid following the failed Victorian example.
"Mr Page has made it clear that he is aiming to amalgamate NSW councils and take the local out of local government," Mr Kelly said.
"Council amalgamations seem to be yet another 'bottom drawer' plan from this NSW Government and it's a major, major worry for people across this state, especially in rural and regional areas.
"The Jeff Kennett Victoria model, which seems to be the one resonating with the Coalition in NSW, has been an unmitigated disaster for that state.
"It resulted in wholesale job losses and the destruction of local services. Residents of rural and regional Victoria are still suffering the effects of this 'reform' and they are still furious to this day. Do we really want to repeat the same mistakes in NSW?
"The Business Chamber is pressuring the government to form just ten 'super-councils'. You can see why that would be in the interest of big business, because it would make it easier to outsource and privatise the vital services that local governments currently provide, like garbage collection, libraries, childcare and road works.
"But it would be a disaster for rural and regional NSW, as well as for residents in urban and suburban areas. If some councils are struggling financially, which we know they are, the answer is to fund them – not merge them into some super-council, which inevitably drive down the services of residents.
"Instead of trying to sneak council amalgamations through the backdoor, I call on Mr Page to instead reveal which council areas are currently in his firing line. The people who rely on local government services in those areas deserve to know."
Graeme Kelly (USU) 0417 420 919, Anil Lambert (Mountain Media) 0416 426 722