Bigger not always better

Walter Raynolds was always in favour of amalgamations and bigger councils and still is. I don’t agree with him.

Many big councils run into financial trouble and many small councils are run well. It is a matter of management. Many big businesses fail and many small ones prosper.

Gunning Shire, before recent amalgamations, was a highly efficient dire delivering all the services, yet was the smallest shire in the state. It was managed well like a good business.

Amalgamation of Yarrowlumla and Tallaganda was supposed to save money, be more efficient and deliver better services. It has been a failure. In 8 years there has been very little new construction work, re-sealing is almost non-existent, maintenance is not kept up on local bitumen roads, some town streets are a disgrace, town water and sewerage rates are extremely high etc.

The old Tallaganda are seems to get the rump end of the new arrangement and it certainly wouldn’t improve with any further amalgamation.

The GM of Palerang Council has some fanciful idea of ensuring that there is sufficient finance to keep roadworks on order now and into the future. But as yet has not spelt out how it might work. If rate-pegging is phased out for general rates, they will go through the roof.

The notion of making council bigger and bigger sounds good in theory but it means more centralisation and decision making. What NSW and Australia need Is less centralisation, not more.

Walter is suggesting more power to the Mayor – even full time and paid appropriately – in other words an administrator. This is of course the socialist and communist way – not democracy.

Ratepayers like to be able to have contact with their local councillor which is hardly the case now and would only be worse with further amalgamation. The term ‘local’ would be taken out of Local Government.

One thing I do agree with Walter on is that a Mayor should be elected by the councillors, the same as the Prime Minister and Premier are elected by the members of Parliament.

If the popularly elected Mayor turned out to be unacceptable to other councillors, they couldn’t then elect someone else. This luckily was the case in the first year of Palerang.

Geoff Hassall