Study calls for open minded debate on amalgamations

Study calls for open minded debate on amalgamations

A report calling for more open-minded debate on council amalgamations has been released by a group of Local Government peak bodies.

Consolidation in Local Government: A Fresh Look gives a fresh perspective on amalgamations, boundary changes, shared services and regional collaboration.

It is the result of a joint study by the new Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG), the Local Government Association of South Australia (LGASA) and the Local Government Association of New Zealand (LGNZ).

ACELG Director, Graham Sansom, said the report highlighted the need for Local Government to embrace change in order to be sustainable and cement its position as the democratic representative of local andregional communities.

"Consolidation options must be addressed so that councils can meet growing community needs and expectations," he said.

"State and Federal Governments are also asking Local Government to do more. In some cases this may lead to amalgamations or boundary changes, in others to more regional collaboration and shared services, but everyone needs to be clear that the objective is more effective Local Government, not cutting rates and charges.

"There is often scope for efficiency gains, but these are needed to fund new or improved services and infrastructure."

LGASA Acting President James Maitland said the report was not influenced by politics or emotion.

"The report certainly debunks a number of myths about council amalgamations and sets them alongside shared services in the context of enhancing the strategic capacity of councils."

The report and detailed case studies are available from ACELG's website www.acelg.org.au.