I REALISE that a lot has been written opposing forced council amalgamations but I believe rural residents should be reminded how seriously these forced amalgamations could affect them and their towns.
There is no reason, no logic, no common sense and no benefits.
Following the recent report on the future of shire councils, a very large percentage of councilors, ratepayers and country people generally will be alarmed and disgusted by the overbearing way the state government has declared that 60 per cent of councils are not fit for the future.
This is a terrible term to use and really shows the contempt the state government has for shire councils.
A very large majority of councils have performed well for many decades. They have given excellent service to their ratepayers and communities at reasonable cost and have handled their finances very well - living within their means.
According to the report, many councils are having financial problems and the government is using this as a reason to deem them to be unfit for the future
Why wouldn't councils have financial problems when they have been starved of funds by the government for many years and at the same time are being burdened with further responsibilities because of cost shifting by the government in areas such as health, tourism, libraries and swimming pools (just to name a few).
The conditions set by the independent panel were really unrealistic to the point of being impossible for most councils to meet. They were obviously designed to make sure that most councils would fail the test.
It has become very obvious that the government decided very soon after being elected that they were going to force through these amalgamations despite any objections. They set up an investigation panel to make a smoke screen to make out that it was being done democratically.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Most local government councils have being servicing local communities well for up to a hundred years and are still doing a good job. The government should support shire councils rather than destroying them along with many small towns.
In my view, the population of a shire should not come into the equation.
The length of roads, the number of parks and gardens, sporting fields, swimming pools, etc should be the yardstick.
Local government has served local people well for quite a few decades before our present crop of city-based politicians were born. If these ridiculous amalgamations are forced through then that would be an example of the worst centralisation you could imagine.
The state government should clean up its own background first and explain why it has to sell off its assets to pay the bills.
If these huge unlocal areas are created and all the assets are gone, then the question will be asked - why do we need state governments?
Shire councils have only been given 30 days to prepare their response and it appears that the government is hell-bent on ramming this through quickly, limiting the time for opposition to build up.
The premier and minister for local governments are acting like dictators on this issue instead of being democratic and looking after country people who played a big part in their election.
I suggest the government should abandon all their plans for amalgamations, which are extremely unpopular, and allow rural councils to get on with the job without a gun pointing at their heads.
The government will face a severe backlash at the next election if they force these amalgamations through despite promises that there would be no forced mergers.
While most councils are not considered to be "fit for the future", one Riverina council area would be fit for a rubbish dump for filthy Sydney garbage.
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