The Tasmanian government is staying true to its word when it comes to amalgamations.
It was clear in the Liberals’ first term and throughout the 2018 state election that council amalgamations would not be forced.
Local Government Minister Peter Gutwein says Tasmania can learn from similar cases in other states – when forced amalgamations failed.
But when should commonsense step in?
We have too many councils in Tasmania. We are over governed for the year 2018.
Yes, back in the day, the councils would have made sense. But with improvement in transport and technology there is little valid argument to keep all 29 councils in Tasmania.
It was with a shake of the head that Northern Tasmania watched two councils get so close to discussions this year, only to come to a fierce stop.
George Town and West Tamar councils were ready to explore amalgamations. A report was funded and presented to the council. Yet, the George Town Council said no for the next stage. That next step was public consultation.
Even months later, it still staggers belief that the proposal couldn’t have gone to the next stage of the conversation. To the people amalgamations and council areas actually affect – the ratepayers. It was a wasted opportunity for meaningful conversation.
Amalgamations will happen – they just have to. Councils have the chance to control that change. To make the best decisions for their residents.
For some ratepayers local government should be focused on rates, roads and rubbish.
For others local government has a powerful role to play in the areas social, economic and environmental development.
The councils are an important tier of governance. Tasmanians deserve bang for buck. We also deserve a chance to be a part of the conversation.
Let’s hope more councils will explore amalgamations and take it to the community so a vital voice can be heard.