No forced council amalgamations

MEMBER for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead has confirmed the State government's election commitment of no forced amalgamation of councils during the current term of government, following the release of the final reports of the Independent Local Government Review Panel and the Local Government Acts Taskforce.

Both the panel and the taskforce have spent the past year considering the issues in detail and consulting with councils and their communities.

Mr Bromhead said the commitment is firm.

"The NSW Liberals and Nationals' government will stand by that commitment during continuing discussions of the options proposed by the panel," Mr Bromhead said.

"There has been a great deal of discussion, research and reviews to lead to the point of releasing the reports.

"Some ideas in the reports will require careful consideration and development and we need to take the time to get this right.

"The reports show quite clearly that local government is facing many challenges and that 'no change' is simply not an option if we want to Make NSW Number One Again.

"However, this change needs to be developed in partnership with councils and their communities. We need to work together to identify what is really important and what needs to be done to strengthen and support the system of local government."

Mr Bromhead said that his comments concerning independent reports of the financial status of Greater Taree City Council should not be taken as an indication that he is advocating for that council to merge.

"About six months ago I drew public attention to the 2013 reports by NSW T-Corp and Promoting Better Practice Review of the unsustainable state of finances and incompetent administration in Taree Council," he said.

"I do not want those comments to be read as my support of forcing Greater Taree City Council into any amalgamation which would be a total contradiction of the NSW Government's policy.

"The NSW Government is committed to helping councils and their communities have a strong local government sector and to finding solutions that work.

"I welcome indications from councils with an interest in amalgamation by consent and I encourage our four local councils to work cooperatively towards that result should they want," Mr Bromhead said.

By releasing both final reports for a period of comment until March 7 will help the NSW government develop its response and provide a final opportunity for councils and their communities to provide input on the way forward.

"I encourage anyone with an interest in securing better performance from local government to have their say before the deadline closes on Friday, March 7," Mr Bromhead said.

"The Government wants to get on with reform and prepare a response to these two important reports."

Councils and community members are encouraged to take this opportunity to access and review the reports by visiting www.dlg.nsw.gov.au.

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