Council amalgamations chance for bold decisions

A discussion to push for West Tamar to be acknowledged as a municipality and then a city somewhat came out of the blue.

It’s an odd conversation to be having given earlier this year amalgamation talks stalled.  Granted, George Town didn’t want to pursue the idea, therefore West Tamar was left on its own.

But if we are talking regions and cities, we need to be having louder conversations around amalgamations.

This isn’t a new topic. There are options and support for any councils to explore amalgamations.

During and after the state election, Local Government Minister Peter Gutwein has made it very clear there will be no forced amalgamations.

However, it’s also clear that we are over governed in Tasmania.

Twenty-nine councils for a population of a little more than 515,000 is a crazy ratio when compared to our counterparts on the mainland.

During the first term of government, parties don’t like to be too bold. They meet their commitments and look towards a second term. 

It’s the second term when bold and groundbreaking action can come. Decisions can be made, that may not be popular, but will get them written into the history books.

Yet, the Liberals hit road blocks during their first term in government with bold plans to extend high schools to grade 12, lower the school starting age and a bid to takeover TasWater. Only one of these were successful and well received by the community.

We are bound to see more bold and strong visions come from the Liberal government over the next four years. This was reflected in the state budget with a flirtation with net debt, yet a record spend on infrastructure.

As we move into local government elections in October the key topic will be amalgamations.

Is it the best option for our region to continue to grow and develop? Is it the best option for residents?

However, we can’t keep having these conversations every four years. 

There will come a time where we must take action and reduce the number of councils. 

It will take a strong government to lead this conversation – and we have one. It’s whether they are ready for another bold movement.

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