The QLGRA Management Committee would encourage all members to consider engaging the media wherever you can – especially at the local level in the next 6 months as we lead up to the state election. If you have an enquiry from the media at a national or state level, please direct the enquiry to President Bob Johnson or Vice President Colin Hewett. However if it is a local media enquiry here are some suggestions on topics that you might wish to cover and some wording you might use. You can say the same thing in many different ways to ensure that your key points are not excluded from the article.
NOTES TO GUIDE INTERVIEWEES
• There is NO clear evidence that amalgamations saved money.
• They cost the shires millions (approx. $228M). Communities (Councils) were reimbursed a pittance ($28M). Costs continue to escalate while service declines.
• We have lost community ethos.
• We have lost our community identity.
• Thinkers worldwide advocate re-empowering communities to reduce costs, and produce efficiencies to provide a stable, sustainable base on which to rebuild the nation.
• Queensland Local Government Reform Alliance represents all regions seeks redress for the TRAVESTY OF THE FORCED AMALGAMATIONS by previous governments.
• It will advocate for its members to the Government, the LGAQ and the general public to give those Communities who want it a referendum to allow de-merger or boundary change or other means to re-empower the communities and to change the Queensland Constitution to that forced amalgamations can never happen again in this State.
POSITIVE POINTS for DE-MERGER to Shires
• Shire councils more approachable
• Shire councils more democratic
• Shire council communities better represented
• Shire councils more viable/sustainable
• Communities more in control of shire funds
• Local (shire) Councils more efficient
• Councils more accountable
• Our money spent in our shire
• We get our local shire identity back
• Local businesses is better off
• Council (community) can do things local way instead of central way
• We can ‘share services’ to minimise costs of those services. This is harder as size increases
• People are back in control of councils and their (rate) money and
• People will report waste/stop it.
NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF AMALGAMATIONS
Research of 2 decades of mergers of regional and rural councils to larger regional councils shows
1. No scale economies , GENERALLY DIS-ECONOMIES
2. No scope economies AS FEWER SENIOR MANAGERS DO NOT COST LESS overall
3. No improvements in viability GENERALLY THE REVERSE
4. No service improvement, in fact the opposite is the case
5. Worse sustainability
6. Worse representation
7. More community identity loss
8. Empirical and anecdotal evidence proves amalgamations to super regional councils are LESS SUSTAINABLE
• No economies of scale
• Decreases of viability/sustainability
• Identity loss terrible
• Business loss due to councils’ and residents’ BUSINESS going out of town
• Failure of representation for communities
• No savings based on area amalgamation
• Promised savings did not eventuate. State and federal governments cause the cost shifting/regulations reducing viability
• They are like shutting down a business
• Bigger is not better.
• Do not save money
• Do not improve viability
• Are less sustainable
• Are less able to react to shocks eg floods, fire etc
• Do not deliver better service
• Deliver less service
• Cost ratepayers more
• Do not reduce debt
• Enable councils to borrow more – and accrue bigger debts
• Do not produce economies of scale
• Seldom produce significant scope economies
• Result in loss of local business
• Result in drop in local economy
• Result in overcentralisation
• Is negative for decentralisation
• Produce diseconomies of scale – “an entirely unexpected result”
• Did not reduce the burden on local government
• Qld amalgamations in ‘90s and 2007/08 “did not produce scale economies but did produce the opposite – “an entirely unexpected result”.
• Promised savings did not eventuate
• LNP government process put in place a very restrictive process to deny many former council areas a chance to re-establish their local councils, to re-empower communities
• Only 4 got to and through their referenda
• Many more did not apply because process too complex – so not democratic
• The government has not carried out its pledge to the electorate to put local government back on track and give communities a voice through referenda.
• Their process has been a breach of natural justice
• Communities (in amalgamated councils) suffering under high rates/low service regimes, increasing debt levels, lost council representation and loss of sense of community