Merge the message from Premier at Local Government conference
THE Premier didn't mince his words while addressing members of 152 NSW councils in Coffs Harbour this morning.
Mike Baird urged councils to look deeply at considering amalgamations.
The pitch wasn't a surprise considering it was the Premier's first address to local government representatives since the State Government announced a $250m package last month providing incentives for council's to amalgamate as part of its Fit For The Future reforms.
Speaking at the Local Government NSW (LGNSW) Annual Conference being held in Coffs Harbour, the Premier said local pride had to be put by the wayside when considering the future.
"How can we use this process to deliver better services and more infrastructure for our community?" Mr Baird said.
"It's almost that sense of having to put pride into the backseat and put the community into the front seat."
The Premier said economic reality suggests councils would be more efficient after amalgamations and help to eradicate a $280m deficit.
"We know that the status quo is not sustainable," he said.
"Losing a million dollars a day is not something we can ask the community to bear."
Coffs Harbour councillor and Local Government NSW president, Cr Keith Rhoades, said while reform was "on our doorstep" there was a "lack of clarity" about how scale and capacity of councils was to be assessed.
"Does the Government intend to change its 'No forced amalgamation' policy if councils aren't willing to merge, or if their proposals are rejected? Rest assured while LGNSW will continue to fight forced amalgamations, we urge councils to respond to the 'Fit for the Future' challenge, and get your proposals in earlier rather than later, whether you intend to merge, or feel you have scale and capacity to stand alone," Cr Rhoades said.