Property Council right on the money, "What more evidence do we need?”

The momentum for council amalgamations in Tasmania has returned front and centre to the reform agenda.

Property Council of Australia Executive Director TAS Brian Wightman said that the Property Council had been arguing for reform for more than six years.

“The people want it, the State Government wants it to occur and the Property Council couldn’t be clearer in its continued advocacy.

“If we want to create jobs and continuous economic growth in Tasmania we need to act by delivering meaningful reform of local government in order to reduce costs and improve service delivery.

“Our State MP’s and Legislative Councillors must take stronger action immediately; Tasmania must be fit for purpose and able to compete at a state, national and international level.

“We can’t just throw money at problems, we must deliver efficiencies through structural reform,” he said.

Mr. Wightman highlighted that there was a significant body of research and opinion polling which delivered an unequivocal message to political leaders in Tasmania:

  • EMRS polling since 2010 commissioned by the Tasmanian Division of the Property Council of Australia;
  • The October 2011 Southern Tasmanian Councils Authority Independent Review of Structures for Local Governance & Service Delivery;
  • The August 2011 Deloitte Access Economics Report Local Government Structural Reform commissioned by the Tasmanian Division of the Property Council of Australia;
  • The October 2013 Revitalising Local Government Final Report commissioned by the NSW Independent Local Government Review Panel;
  • The October 2015 IPART Fit for Future Assessment in NSW; and
  • The October 2016 KPMG South East Councils Feasibility Study commissioned by State and Local Government in Tasmania.

Mr Wightman continued to outline the case for reform.

“In our latest June 2016 polling, the majority of respondents (70 per cent) agreed that 29 councils for a population of 510,000 people was too many.

“Significant Reports and Reviews have indicated efficiency savings of up to 35 per cent.

“The IPART Fit for Future Assessment in NSW argues up to $2 billion in benefits could be delivered through mergers within Sydney over the next 20 years.

And now added to the tome of evidence is the South East Councils Feasibility Study prepared by KPMG, commissioned by State and Local Government and released this week.

“There are quite clearly 7.6 million reasons why local government reform must occur.

“And unequivocal evidence that rate-payers’ money could be re-invested in better, more equitable and wider-ranging services,” he said.

The Property Council encouraged bipartisan support to make council reform a priority.

“The Labor Party along with Legislative Councillors must join with the Government and drive this reform outside of an election cycle.

“We need to know where they stand on the question of local government reform.

“It’s time for reform, and it’s time for our political leaders to act in the best interest of rate-payers by working together to ensure that council amalgamations become a reality,” he said.