An article appearing in the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday 8 September 2014 raises questions about the future of local government in NSW. The article, if accurate, questions the financial security of councils across NSW and lists only six metropolitan councils as strong.
The NSW Local Government Minister Paul Toole has stated that Local Government is deteriorating financially. The United Services Union has a simple solution to this problem - state and federal governments should be appropriately funding the local government sector. Instead of addressing that issue it seems imminent that the State Government is preparing to respond to the recommendations prepared by the Destination 2036 panel - which raises concerns for the USU and our members because the report stated that council amalgamations make sense.
Amalgamations and boundary changes will have a clear impact on the local government sector in NSW, in particular the provision of services to the community and threatens the future employment of all workers in the Local Government sector.
Whilst the Local Government Act provides some employment protections these are not indefinite. The United Services Union will be fighting to ensure the protection of our members' jobs, wages and conditions and all members are urged to share this article with others in their workplace.
A united workforce will be the strongest workforce.
For further information the article can be found here: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/council-amalgamations-back-on-the-agenda-20140907-10dif0.html
Your Union, the United Services Union, will keep you informed of any developments.
Statement from ASU National Local Government Division Convenor
The report, if accurate, should place the issue where it is, with state governments for too many years reducing councils' incomes through rate pegging and now a Federal Government reducing its grants to local government. Both levels of government need to get realistic in allowing councils to place rates where they should be or to give councils a share of GST. The size of council work will only grow with an increasing and ageing population, and a population whose standards of living are growing. Let's have councils list what services they need for communities and let them be funded by their rate payers. Mergers or amalgamations are not going to save the day, they are a distraction only.
Greg McLean, ASU Assistant National Secretary