` If they take th­ese coun­cils out, they’re the ma­jor em­ployer in those towns and those towns will even­tu­ally die. They’ll shut them down...

Dubbo Photo News - - Council Watch - By YVETTE AUBUS­SON-FO­LEY

AF­TER care­ful de­lib­er­a­tion and work­shop­ping of the state gov­ern­ment’s pro­posed joint or­gan­i­sa­tions for coun­cil, Dubbo Re­gional Coun­cil (DRC) has rec­om­mended to not pro­ceed.

Three is­sues were high­lighted dur­ing the last or­di­nary coun­cil meet­ing held be­fore Easter, on Mon­day, March 26.

Once a coun­cil joins the joint or­gan­i­sa­tion (JO) they may not leave that joint or­gan­i­sa­tion. The March 26 meet­ing heard that there is still “much un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing the suc­cess and op­er­a­tion of joint or­gan­i­sa­tions and coun­cil is still un­der­tak­ing sig­nif­i­cant merger-re­lated projects and could not com­mit ad­di­tional re­sources to es­tab­lish­ing a joint or­gan­i­sa­tion at this time”.

DRC in­terim CEO Michael Mcma­hon’s re­port showed that the $300,000 seed fund­ing to be pro­vided to each joint or­gan­i­sa­tion by the state gov­ern­ment is only avail­able to those joint or­gan­i­sa­tions pro­claimed by April 2018 and op­er­a­tional by July 1, 2018.

Ac­cord­ing to the state gov­ern­ment’s def­i­ni­tion, a joint or­gan­i­sa­tion “is a new en­tity un­der the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act com­pris­ing mem­ber coun­cils in re­gional NSW to pro­vide a stronger voice for the com­mu­ni­ties they rep­re­sent”.

“A Joint Or­gan­i­sa­tion will pro­vide a more struc­tured, per­ma­nent way for lo­cal coun­cils, State agen­cies and other in­ter­ested groups to col­lab­o­rate. Each re­gion will de­cide its own pri­or­i­ties, work­ing on short- and longterm projects such as at­tract­ing a new in­dus­try to the re­gion or im­prov­ing the health of a river sys­tem.

“By putting their re­sources to­gether and fo­cus­ing on the unique chal­lenges and strengths of their whole re­gion, Joint Or­gan­i­sa­tion mem­bers can drive bet­ter out­comes for lo­cal res­i­dents.

“Each Joint Or­gan­i­sa­tion will com­prise at least three mem­ber coun­cils and align with one of the State’s strate­gic growth plan­ning re­gions. One of the mem­ber coun­cil’s may­ors will be elected chair­per­son and an Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer may be ap­pointed.

“So, there’s just one rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the coun­cils on a joint or­gan­i­sa­tion who goes and ex­presses the voice of those com­mu­ni­ties. Ba­si­cally, they’ve lost their demo­crat­i­cally elected voice in gov­ern­ment,” ac­cord­ing to Coun­cil­lor Greg Mohr.

“There’s noth­ing wrong with the sys­tem, with hav­ing a demo­crat­i­cally elected or­gan­i­sa­tion, be­cause they’re ac­count­able. The gov­ern­ment is hop­ing to bas­tardise th­ese smaller coun­cils by of­fer­ing $300,000 to form one or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“I be­lieve the gov­ern­ment should de­liver proper fund­ing for the smaller re­gional towns, put de­cent money and on­go­ing rev­enue into those ar­eas, fix their prob­lems. They still con­trib­ute to the econ­omy, they still pay tax, they’re still res­i­dents and they shouldn’t be left out in the dark.

“If they take th­ese coun­cils out, they’re the ma­jor em­ployer in those towns and those towns will even­tu­ally die. They’ll shut them down. A lot more ser­vices are be­ing shut down, th­ese smaller

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