16 July 2014

Do we really need a 4th tier of governance??

Recent documents that we have been asked to have a look at make some good recommendations for the future of local government. Others are just one step toward  an additional level of governance and/ or Council amalgamations on an unprecedented scale.
 While I like the suggestions of limited tenure for Mayors (3 terms) and compulsory voting I know that regional governance is not a step in the right direction. What our community likes about the way it is , is the fact that local government is local and you can just pick up the phone or send and email and the person you sent it to will answer it themselves and almost certainly address your concern themselves. It seems inevitable that Development Assessment Panels as we know them will be a thing of the past. Regional DAPs will be introduced and they will have no members of Council on them. John Rau, seems to think that there is no place in development assessment for Councillors  and that a panel of experts will be better able to make the decisions. My problem is that the panel of experts he already has called the Development Assessment Commission never seem to refuse anything and seem to blatantly  ignore existing Development Plans.

Also suggested is Mayors of groups of Councils meeting as an elite group to further regional governance and to enable reduced costs for larger contracts and better opportunities to obtain grant funding. The problem is that this layer will need staff and a place to call home eating into any perceived savings very quickly. Councils, like Unley, already work with other Councils as they see fit to achieve savings: as an example the Wellbeing plan is shared with Mitcham, IT solutions with Adelaide, storm water management  with 4 other Councils, etc. This may simply be a way to force amalgamations that nobody wants or needs at the current time.

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