Wagga has been left looking like the odd one out with neighbouring councils partnering up in “joint organisations”.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro announced the NSW government would award $300,000 to 11 joint organisations formed across the state on Tuesday, which included more than 90 per cent of all councils.
The new regional bodies were designed to drive better planning, economic development and service delivery across regional and remote NSW.
The Riverina and Murray Joint Organisation includes Albury, Griffith, Hay, Leeton and Murrumbidgee councils, while the Riverina Joint Organisation encompasses Bland, Coolamon, Cootamundra-Gundagai, Greater Hume, Junee, Lockhart and Temora councils.
According to Wagga City Council chief Peter Thompson, an east-west joint organisation – including Snowy Valleys, Narrandera and Leeton councils – had been floated, but ultimately fell apart.
“We’re sitting out at the moment, doing an informal arrangement with Wagga co-ordinating strategic planning along an east-west alignment with Carrathool, Griffith, Leeton, Narrandera, Snowy Valleys and other councils as well,” Mr Thompson said. “We’ll see how it plays out, but I’m advocate of (the joint organisations), the regions will be better of for them.”
There were benefits for health and tourism planning, Mr Thompson said, but he rejected suggestions the new groups were a prelude to further forced council mergers.
“The state government was very clear that the function of a joint organisation is to do regional strategic plans, to advocate to the state government on the needs of the regions and to provide an engagement platform for the government,” he said. “They don’t really reflect the functions of local government authority and what they do in the community.”
It is understood REROC will continue alongside the joint organisations, while RAMROC will fold.