TASMANIAN Planning and Local Government Minister Peter Gutwein last week said the government has begun formal discussions with councils about voluntary amalgamations, with all 29 mayors invited to attend and discuss the matter at regional meetings early next year.
"We know from informal discussions that there is an appetite for structural reform in Local Government to deliver improved services to communities," Mr Gutwein said in a statement.
"With the elections concluded, now is the time to take the initiative and consider how we can improve councils' strategic capacity, financial sustainability and service delivery.
"There's no doubt potential amalgamations are a big step and we need to take a careful and considered approach to developing options.
"The next step in this process is bringing all councils together on a regional basis to discuss amalgamation opportunities in early February.
"These meetings will allow the Government to outline the proposed process and discuss timeframes. We recognise councils would need to conduct feasibility studies and these meetings will allow us to discuss how the government can support the process."
Mr Gutwein reiterated that a number of principles must be met before the government will consider an amalgamation proposal. Amalgamations must:
- Be in the interest of rate payers;
- Improve the level of services for communities;
- Preserve and maintain local representation; and
- Ensure that the financial status of the entities is strengthened.
"We want to work with Local Government to make Tasmania the place to live, work and invest. A conversation about voluntary amalgamations and resource sharing is a good starting point," the Minister said.
Photo: Tasmania from Space / 'Tasmania.A2005320.2355.250m' / Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC / Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.