Local Council Amalgamations
The Hon. GREG PEARCE: My question is directed to the Minister for Local Government. What action is the Government taking to investigate amalgamations of local governments, given that the Minister has indicated that the deferral of local government elections will provide the opportunity for councils to consider amalgamations? Further, what role is the Minister for Energy and Utilities taking in the Government's consideration of this issue?
The Hon. TONY KELLY: The Government has announced a delay in the local government elections of six months for two very good reasons. On 15 April the Premier announced the deferral and rescheduling of those elections. This followed a request from the Local Government Association that the local government elections be rescheduled for March next year. It did so for two reasons: firstly, to allow an incoming council to take control of its own budget shortly after being elected; and secondly, and more importantly, for the ratepayers of New South Wales, and more particularly the voters of New South Wales, to ensure that we do not have consecutive elections six months apart.
This Parliament has fixed four-year terms, and local government also has fixed four-year terms. Unless we change this system, forever and a day State and local government elections will be six months apart. I would hope that the Federal Government would look at having fixed four-year terms also. Having said that, I am of the view that this decision will also provide an opportunity to local government, members of local government, local government councils and ratepayers around the State to consider the options for boundary adjustments and voluntary amalgamations.