Rhoades sees red over submissions timetable

LOCAL Government NSW president and Coffs Harbour councillor Keith Rhoades has slammed the State Government over the Fit for the Future scheme.

Cr Rhoades said the release of the final Fit for the Future assessment methodology left just 15 working days for councils to complete submissions that will be instrumental in determining their future existence.

Cr Rhoades said the limited time allowed for councils to ensure their submissions responded appropriately to the final methodology made "a mockery of fair process".

He said 15 days was simply insufficient for councils to ensure their submissions reflected community wishes and met the methodology requirements.

"That includes a threshold benchmark of 'scale and capacity', which is still deeply problematic - according to the government, scale and capacity can only be reached if councils are merged.

"The majority of councils represent residents and ratepayers who have said overwhelmingly they do not want to be amalgamated, so it's a real Catch 22 and they're on a hiding to nothing."

Cr Rhoades said the inadequate timeline set down by the State Government was a joke, and put at risk the likelihood of achieving reform that would genuinely benefit residents and ratepayers.

"IPART is required to receive these critically important and complex submissions, make a judgment on each against complex criteria, and then advise the government by October 16 whether or not individual councils are 'Fit for the Future'.

"With the council submissions due on June 30, IPART have, on average, less than one day per council to make assessments.

"These are not insignificant documents we're talking about - they will determine the future grassroots representation of communities in this state.

"Councils and the communities they represent deserve a voice in their own future, and they certainly deserve more than a single day's flick through of a detailed and thorough submission."

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