The NSW Government today released IPART's 'Fit for the Future' Local Government report.
IPART found that the City of Sydney 'meets the scale and capacity criterion as a stand-alone council and would be fit as a stand-alone council' but declared us unfit when compared to the idea of a Mega City Council - combing Woollahra, Waverley, Randwick, Botany and the City. An idea that has no support from the communities involved.
The IPART report said:
The council satisfies the financial criteria overall. It satisfies the sustainability, infrastructure and service management, and efficiency criteria.
Other data also suggests City of Sydney is a well-run council with significant scale and capacity. It has pro-actively partnered with governments, undertaken significant CBD-based urban renewal, and approved a large range of development projects to grow the CBD.
We (IPART) received 520 submissions in relation to the City of Sydney. This is the largest number of submissions for any council region and approximately a third of all submissions received. All submissions (except 8) opposed a merger of the City of Sydney with any other council.
Our independent auditors Pricewaterhouse Coopers reported to Council last night: "Council is considered to be in a strong and stable financial position. All financial indicators are better than accepted industry benchmarks."
The NSW Government's own Treasury Corporation (TCorp) rates the City's financial sustainability as 'Strong' with a positive outlook - the only one of 152 NSW Councils to receive this rating.
Over the past 10 years, the City has consistently delivered debt-free budgets, kept residential rates among the lowest in Sydney, and delivered high-quality infrastructure needed by our community and the 1.2 million people in our city each day.
To say the City is somehow unfit in the face of this strong evidence to the contrary makes a mockery of the entire review process, and throws into question all decisions made as a result.
During the NSW Government's webcast to Local Government about the IPART report they said now was not the time for community consultation. They want councils to decide the future of our local government areas without input from the people who live and work here - it's hardly democracy done well is it?
Perhaps it's because they know that most people across NSW are opposed to forced amalgamations. In the City of Sydney, independent polling found 80% of residents and 70% of businesses want our current boundaries to stay the same.
We were amalgamated in 2004 so we know they take three to five years to be fully complete - when a significant focus is on the amalgamation itself, rather than fully focusing on delivering projects, infrastructure and services.
The mega council idea encompasses a local government area the size of the entire state of Tasmania without any new responsibility or authority.
The impact of a forced amalgamation now would risk our 10-year, $1.94 billion infrastructure program as well as $30-40 billion worth of private development over the next decade.
Councils have been given until 18 November to make a final submission to the NSW Government.
The Government might not want to hear from you but they need too!
If you oppose the idea of a mega council amalgamation then I encourage you to urgently contact the Premier and Local Govt Minister and tell them to keep their hands off our city.
Talk about what's at stake with your family, friends and neighbours and encourage them to take action too.
The Liberal Government ignored the community and forced me out of State Parliament; they ignored the community and allowed businesses two votes in City of Sydney elections.
Don't let them ignore us this time.