DERWENT Valley Mayor Ben Shaw has called for a radical solution to the issue of local government reform, arguing Tasmanian councils should be reduced from 29 to 15.
The mayor has called for a community discussion about aligning councils with Legislative Council seats.
Stressing it was his personal view and not one of council, Mr Shaw said ultimately the Legislative Council should be abolished “therefore handing the very important job of scrutinising and debating policy and legislation at the very place it should be looked at, the grassroots level.”
“Policy and legislation affect everyone in our community yet we rarely see Upper House members discussing legislation and policy in the streets or open forums,’’ Mr Shaw said.
“By having the mayor of the regions sitting as the ‘local member’ and the elected members around the table acting as the review committee you would get much more robust scrutiny and a more informed opinion of the community members the certain policy or legislation intends to affect.
“Although I can hardly see the retirement village of politics voting themselves out of a job!
“Let’s face it, the majority of small to medium sized councils are not financially sustainable and will never be.
“Our council is the perfect test case, we are growing at a rapid rate, we have severe long standing infrastructure issues and we have a huge financial structural deficit which, yes technically we can work our way back out of, however that would be just getting back to even without even looking at our long-term infrastructure issues.
“Now this isn’t to say that councils in this situation are not doing a great job at delivering with what they have because I think local government is by far the best vehicle to deliver on-ground results that truly benefit our communities and are nimble enough to make things happen so we just need to make sure we get the structure right moving forward and make sure councils are sustainable.’’
Mr Shaw said the sub-region model of councils worked well and collaboratively and in the best interest of the whole region: Brighton, Derwent Valley, Central Highlands and the Southern Midlands.
“For me those four regions make sense to either become one big regional council or be a case for “real” resource sharing and formalised partnership arrangements,’’ Mr Shaw said.
“There is scope to save on things like plant and equipment, major project costs, senior management roles, business system costs and many other opportunities.
“This does not mean we would need to do away with staff and workers as we will always need those roles in all of our regions, but at that top level or two there are certainly efficiencies to be had.’’
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