Have your say or just watch it happen

June 26, 2013

Residents have only until this Friday to make their views about the future of the Gwydir Shire known to the Local Government Review.

Gwydir Shire was formed in March 2004 after the amalgamation of Bingara, Yallaroi and part of Barraba Shires.

It is estimated that amalgamation costs (incurred over the first three years) amounted to $3.4 million.

Gwydir Shire council is the biggest business in the community and the largest employer, providing employment to over 200 residents, the equivalent of 164 full time employees.

For many years state governments have sought local government amalgamations. In the 1980’s rural residents witnessed the impact of economic rationalism by the banks and local health and rail services were reduced. That was a strong disincentive to amalgamate.

At this time, many state agency services were withdrawn, and authorities centralised and merged. Along with subsequent droughts, a “crisis in the bush” occurred. For a time, amalgamations were put on the back burner as rural residents actively voiced their unhappiness at the situation.

Within a few years, we have seen Pasture Protection Boards merge into Livestock Health Protection Authorities and now Local Land Services. This is an example of rationalisation.

In the private sector we have seen many businesses move to centralised call centres, off shore manufacturing and online services.

The issue of potential local government merges is being recommended.

The provision of services is more and more being given to Councils, without a matching increase in funding.  There are some services which could be managed externally or at a central office, such as record management, accounts, policy development, financial, insurance and risk management.

There is no doubt council needs to become more efficient and cost effective, but a balance between budgeting and community needs to be struck.

The Independent Local government review Panel mentions population being a benchmark measure to justify mergers, but does not address this as an issue that could be addressed by the NSW State and Federal Government, with incentives to encourage intrastate migration.

Overall the Panel’s latest report has failed to appropriately estimate the potential cost to rural and regional communities of the proposed changes.

It is the opinion of the Gwydir Shire Councillors that Gwydir Council is unique, but we need your support to prove this to the State Governments.

If you want to express a view, please write to:
Independent Local Government Review Panel
C/- Locked Bag 3015,
Nowra  NSW  2541, or

Email: info@localgovernmentreview.nsw.gov.au
(with a copy to the Council) before Friday, June 28, or

Gwydir Shire Council
Locked Bag 5,
Bingara NSW 2404,
Email:  mail@gwydir.nsw.gov.au.