Council merger 'mature debate' needed: Constance

Member for Bega Andrew Constance.

Member for Bega Andrew Constance.

Source: Bay Post

BEGA MP Andrew Constance is calling on the community to have a “mature debate” about the possible voluntary amalgamation of Eurobodalla Shire and neighbouring shires like Bega Valley.

Speaking at the Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday night, Mr Constance said he thought it was time the community discussed what economies of scale could be achieved through voluntary amalgamation of councils. 

Mr Constance said he was “fed up” with the fact every time Eurobodalla Shire Council had a problem it was “because of the state”, and he hit out against recent political game playing in the past two weeks.

“It’s having an effect on confidence in the shire,” he said.

“If they can’t make their council meetings work, I will recommend to the Minister that they be suspended.

“They need to make sure they have a workable body.

“If you’re an investor and you read about what’s going on at council, why would you invest here?

“I think there is a discussion that needs to be had about the future of this shire and where it wants to go.”

Mr Constance said there were 152 councils around the state which each duplicated processes from water billing and procurement to IT systems, fleet management and planning policies.

He said Shoalhaven City Council, which has a population of 90,000, had far better economies of scale.

“We need to be streamlining functions as best we can,” Mr Constance said.

“They should be looking at everything from billing to procurements to get better outcomes.”

Mr Constance said the Eurobodalla was struggling yet residents paid “some of the highest rates in the state”.

He said the shire needed to lay a foundation of investment confidence in the region.

“Everything always seems to come back to that somebody else is responsible, enough is enough,” he said.

“I do think we need to look at whether we can move toward the voluntary amalgamation process.

“We need to work with local government but at the same time we can’t allow this stuff to continue.

“The rest of the state has got its mojo, I just want to see (the shire) get behind what the state is trying to do.”

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