Proposal to abolish state govt

COFFS Harbour, Bellingen and Nambucca local government areas would become part of a larger Northern Rivers "super council" if a revolutionary concept came to fruition.

Recently retired deputy secretary of the Treasury, Richard Murray, has proposed a radical plan whereby the existing state and territory governments would be abolished and the Commonwealth converted to a two-tiered administrative structure.

The new Federal model would comprise five city and 19 regional councils.

The Northern Rivers region of 485,000 residents would encompass current local government areas between the Tweed and Hastings Rivers with its "capital" in Port Macquarie.

"I have written this paper - A New Federation With A Cities And Regional Approach - with the objective of adding to the overall debate over the future of the Federation that remains at the heart of the democratic governance of our great nation," Mr Murray said.

The 88-page document has been published by the Australia and New Zealand School of Government and can be downloaded from the website.

Peer reviews by academics working in the field have been positive, however, there has been no major response so far from the three traditional tiers of government.

Under the plan, regional councils would focus almost totally on service delivery while removing them from accusations of dabbling too much in social engineering.

Responsibilities would range from justice and law enforcement, to hospital and education management, and transport infrastructure.

Funding would require the abolition of the GST and it's replacement with a consumption tax levied at the local level.

Mr Murray's plan draws heavily on the Henry Tax Review and the Gonski Report into education, along with other reports prepared for government during the past decade.

A mayor would head up each region with representatives elected under a ward system.

While appearing radical at first glance, the concept bears strong resemblance to the "county" system found in the United States.

Regional governments would concentrate on delivering the programs and services emanating from national policies to citizens and communities at the local level, while also retaining full responsibility for their own policy and administration of urban, regional and local issues.

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