The Tasmanian state government has announced it will take a ‘hands off’ approach to council mergers across Tasmania.
“There will be no forced amalgamations,” Premier Jeremy Rockliff said. “We have listened to the concerns of Tasmanians and councils, and I want to end their fear and uncertainty today.
“The Local Government Review Board is continuing their important work, but I want to make it clear, this will not result in forced amalgamations. “Communities and councils will decide their own future.”
Local Government Minister Nic Street said different communities have different needs, and the Government’s process will ensure they have the final say.
“Today, I want to provide some comfort to Tasmanians by outlining the pathway that we will follow when the Board hands down its final report on October 31,” Mr Street said.
“Each council will be invited to review the final report and make a submission to Government, about what they want.
“Any plans agreed by councils will be taken to the community for a vote, to ensure it has community support to go ahead. There will be no changes unless both the council and community want them.
“I am confident that some councils will be eager to participate in this process, while others will not. But, importantly, it is for councils and communities to determine and they will have the final say, but with the benefit of the extensive work that has been undertaken by the Board.”
“We commenced this review of local government in good faith and for all the right reasons, I do not want to see rates rises of 10 per cent or more become the new normal because councils can’t cover their costs.
“Labor and the unions have tried their best to derail this process with fear mongering, and I won’t have that. This should be about what is best for local communities, which is what is informing our approach.”
Minister Street said the level of community engagement and research undertaken by the Board had been exceptional, and their final report would provide a strong foundation for the future of local government in Tasmania.
“The Board has shown great leadership in this process to provide options to strengthen the local government sector and ensure it delivers for all Tasmanians,” Minister Street said.
“This will ensure we can build a system of local Government that can both seize the opportunities and meet the challenges we will face in the decades to come.”