As state governments continue to tinker with council mergers and amalgamations, rather than look at how councils can provide more and better services to meet our growing community needs, the local government councils themselves, along with their employees and their Union (the ASU), and the community at large focus on more important matters.
Amongst our concerns are how to respond to merger proposals to ensure the best continuation of services to the community and how to maintain the employment of those with the detailed knowledge and skills to deliver the best for the community through direct local government employment, as well as looking at how to plan the workforce of the future in local government.
To assist ASU Branches and officials, the ASU National Office has published a discussion paper that includes the following areas:
- Financial arrangements
- The concept of 'reform'
- State & territory government policy directions
- Recent local government reform and amalgamation measures
- Union activity around amalgamations
- Info on local government employees
- Importance of local jobs
- Impact on staff morale and productivity
- Unanticipated costs
- Perspectives on amalgamations
- Claimed benefits are unsubstantiated
- Increasing scepticism about the real motivation behind forced amalgamations
- Communities and local services
- Community opposition to forced amalgamations
- More jobs and funding needed for local services
The discussion paper has been forwarded to ASU local government organisers and officials as well ASU officials in other public services industries. ASU delegates can obtain a copy of the discussion paper from their Branch and or Union Organiser.
ASU Assistant National Secretary and head of local government and public services team, Greg McLean said, "The key reason we put the discussion paper together was to have a starting point for ASU officials, delegates and reps to go to when they are faced with merger or amalgamation discussions."
"With this information in hand, they can have an understanding of key issues and what's recently happened in other states, as well as their own."
"The paper is easy to read, be it at the local council depot, in the field or at the council offices, libraries, child care centres etc. It's a paper that is made for members and officials to pick up, when the word amalgamations or mergers is heard, and someone says 'what does that mean?'."
"It's very much what I would have wanted in my hands when I was an organiser," said Greg McLean.