Challenge to council carve-up

Riverina and Murray Regional Organisation of Councils’ Ray Stubbs has challenged a proposed carve-up of his organisation. Picture: PETER MERKESTEYN

Riverina and Murray Regional Organisation of Councils’ Ray Stubbs has challenged a proposed carve-up of his organisation. Picture: PETER MERKESTEYN

THE Riverina and Murray Regional Organisation of Councils has challenged a proposed carve-up of the group representing 18 councils in southern NSW.

The Independent Local Government Review Panel’s final report proposed the group be disbanded and three smaller joint organisations be created, including an Upper Murray group consisting of Albury, Greater Hume, Corowa and Urana councils.

Members last week agreed to ask Local Government Minister Paul Toole for the region to be the subject of a pilot study to assess the best future model.

Organisation executive officer Ray Stubbs said the state government had been asked for $100,000 to engage consultants to carry out the study.

“Councils are saying we’ve got a good model at the moment,” he said.

“We’ve got a good basis for the area and we work well together.

“But we are prepared to test it.”

Former local government minister Don Page had been booked to attend last week’s council group meeting, but he lost his portfolio in a ministerial shake-up resulting from the shock resignation of Premier Barry O’Farrell.

Mr Toole, a former Bathurst mayor, was invited but couldn’t attend.

The carve-up also proposes the Jerilderie, Berrigan, Murray, Deniliquin, Conargo and Wakool councils be included in a Lower Murray joint organisation and Griffith, Leeton, Narrandera, Murrumbidgee, Carathool and Hay councils be combined in a Murrumbidgee group.

Balranald and Wentworth would be added to the far western regional group, which would extend from the Victorian to the Queensland borders.

“These separate joint organisations are intended to replace the existing network in providing a range of advocacy and strategic planning functions for member councils,” Mr Stubbs said.

“But the 18 councils have consistently adopted a policy position which argues the current structure remains the most appropriate regional collaboration model to progress the interests of the region’s communities for the next 25 to 50 years, without any need for further amalgamations of councils.

“It would also continue its existing day-to-day operational activities in group procurement, resource sharing of services, workforce development and best practice information exchange between the councils.”

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