Edward Mandla
IN THE MEDIA
Local council mergers: Lord Mayor Clover Moore remains defiant

Published On: 27/10/2015
MILES GODFREY

LORD Mayor Clover Moore has defiantly vowed to ignore the findings of a damning independent study that found City of Sydney unfit for the future in a move likely to set up a showdown with the Baird government.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) ruled last week that 60 per cent of the state’s councils, including City of Sydney, are not fit to continue in their present form, paving the way for mergers that will slash the number of Sydney local governments from 41 to 20.

Ms Moore faces the possible end of of her 11-year reign as Lord Mayor of City of Sydney merges with conservative-leaning eastern suburbs councils, as recommended by an independent local government panel, which claims that larger councils would be more efficient and deliver better services. But as other unfit councils across the state reconsider their opposition to mergers in light of IPART’s report, Ms Moore vowed to resist its findings, setting the scene for an ugly showdown with the Baird government, which will sack councils and forcibly merge them if they don’t come up with voluntary amalgamation plans by November 18.

“Business supports the council with its current boundaries ... 80 per cent of residents support the city retaining its current boundaries,” Ms Moore said. “There is a total lack of justification for this proposal.”

IPART ATTACK

Making her first appearance since the report was handed down, Ms Moore told City of Sydney’s full council meeting last night that the IPART assessment process was “ridiculous” and won backing for a motion reaffirming City of Sydney as fit for the future.

The motion also said no changes should be made to the city’s boundaries, offering a strong indication the Lord Mayor will not consider further merger talks with neighbouring councils, despite the looming threat of sackings and forced amalgamations.

IPART found the City financially fit but ruled it fell down on scale and capacity criteria, having failed to prove its preferred option of standing alone would be better than a proposed merger with Waverley, Randwick, Botany and Woollahra councils.

“The fact IPART found us fit to stand alone on all standards but marked us as unfit purely because we didn’t meet an arbitrary criteria on size, shows how ridiculous this process is,” Ms Moore said.

Liberal councillor Edward Mandla accused Ms Moore of failing to properly consider mergers: “Instead of looking to save taxpayers dollars, we’re looking to save our jobs.”

Liberal councillor Christine Forster last night suggested Ms Moore should reopen merger talks with Woollahra in order to satisfy the IPART criteria.

Labor councillor Linda Scott said there had been no justification made for a merger.

Local council mergers: Lord Mayor Clover Moore remains defiant

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