MP promises power to the people

NSW State Opposition leader Barry O’Farrell has pledged to regional council leaders that he will take the politics out of decision-making if his party wins power at the 2011 elections.

Speaking to a meeting of the Country Mayors Association, Mr O’Farrell outlined his vision for local government, which includes a commitment to set priorities for new infrastructure through the establishment of a 20-year State infrastructure strategy that would not be influenced by the three-year election cycle.

“By establishing a 20-year strategy, the flip-flop on decisions that we witness when power changes hands at the State level would disappear,” said the chairman of the Country Mayors Association, Councillor Keith Rhoades.

“This would give local communities the security of knowing that the promised infrastructure that we often so desperately need, would be put in place regardless of the colour of the party in charge.

“It was also heartening to learn a Coalition government would re-focus on quality services, restore accountability and protect the local environment by returning planning powers to the people.”

The fact that local government is limited in the amount of rates that it can levy through rate pegging is a major issue for councils across the State, added Cr Rhoades.

“Mr O’Farrell told us he is supportive of the New Zealand system that requires a council to develop a 10-year plan adopted by the community. Rates are then levied with percentage increases to fund the plan.

“This meeting was very informative and I hope our invitation to the NSW Premier Kristina Keneally to address a future meeting of the Association will be accepted.”



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