Size will count in mergers
PANEL TO FACTOR IN GROWTH
THE man who will help decide the fate of councils in NSW will closely scrutinise population forecasts in weighing up if they should amalgamate.
Former chief adviser to Peter Costello and powerful operator in the Howard Government, Dr Peter Boxall, said population forecasts would be a factor used to assess whether councils had sufficient “scale and capacity” to go it alone.
“We haven’t come up with a one-size-fits-all (population) figure but we will be informed by the figure in the independent panel’s report which underpins each of the proposed council mergers,” Dr Boxall said.
As the head of the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, he is in charge of assessing proposals made by councils this week to merge or standalone.
The population targets set out in an earlier report varied but were as high as 670,000 by 2031 for the “global city” proposal for City of Sydney, Woollahra, Waverley, Rockdale and Botany Bay.
IPART has until October to assess the councils’ Fit for the Future proposals.
“We will either assess them as ‘fit’ or ‘not fit’ for the future,” Dr Boxall said.
He said the “overarching criteria” is scale and capacity followed by: financial sustainability; infrastructure capacity and management; and efficiency.
The Fit for the Future reforms are part of the State Government’s moves to re-