You have probably heard it said many, many times before - Local Government is the closest level of government to the people.
But have you ever stopped to think about why that is, and what would happen if we lost this connection?
Just like all levels of government, council representatives like mayors and councillors are democratically elected.
The only difference is it is not compulsory to vote in local government elections ... but you still should.
The other big difference is that the people you are voting for come directly from your community.
This means they are arguably better positioned to understand what is important to you than other state and federal politicians who may represent your area but are not part of your local community.
Local government representatives really understand what makes our communities tick, what makes them so special and how to protect, promote and represent them.
This means they are prepared to fight for what is important to their community, because usually, it is also important to them and their family and friends.
As well as elected members coming directly from our communities, so too do the employees that work at the council.
The council is just their workplace, not who they are.
This is especially true of small councils like ourselves, as you can all imagine as fellow Tasmanians ... we all know or are connected to each other in some way or another.
I am sure we are not the only council in the state as well whose employees not only serve the community Monday to Friday, but who often volunteer their own time to give back to their community.
This is something I am particularly proud of as it shows the level of dedication and genuine care for the community our staff and the council have.
Some of the volunteering roles our staff undertake include volunteering for emergency services like the local fire brigade, the SES and Tas Ambulance as well as mentoring local students, and volunteering their time to local sporting clubs and community groups.
These connections make local government an important link between the community and state and federal agencies when they are wanting to understand the needs of, and how best to support, a community.
With local government reform on the state government's agenda, it really is important that the community recognises the value of its local council and our grass roots connection to our communities.
Now, here at Break O'Day, we are not opposed to a review or reform of our sector so long as our community is heard, adequately serviced and well represented.
We have already done comprehensive research around what opportunities exists with our neighbouring LGAs Dorset and Glamorgan Spring Bay.
As we share boundaries and similarities with them including environmental and economic values, we can see opportunities to resource share while still maintaining a service level all our communities are used to.
But what must be recognised is that a small, regional council like ours is very different to most of the metro councils, like Launceston, which has different values and a much larger population base.
There is no doubt that the needs, priorities and even the community sentiment will be different from community to community, and that is why it is so very important that in any review of local government the unique voices of our unique communities are not lost.
Those of us in local government are increasingly concerned by those outside our sector who are making statements claiming amalgamations are the answer for our sector.
The impact of council amalgamations on communities is well known and more often than not, sees the grass roots representation of their community by their local government lost.
State and federal governments often defer to local government to understand the needs and the desires of a community because we are the grass roots and they recognise the bond we have with our communities.
On top of this, councils tend to be the first place the community goes to when they have a complaint or concern.
We are quite literally the touch point between our community and a range of services and agencies.
Unfortunately, sometimes it seems that some members of the community do not understand or appreciate the connection that their council and its staff have with them, and just how important this connection is for the overall wellbeing and development of their area.
Like most things in life, sometimes we only see the value in something once it is gone, and once we amalgamate, there will be no going back.
As I said earlier, Break O'Day Council is not against a review of local government, in fact we support it, as long as our community has a voice and service levels remain the same.
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