The Property Council of Australia today released its submission to the NSW Government’s inquiry into the structure of eight Sydney councils.
The submission’s proposals will usher in a new era of local government in Sydney and provide the impetus for more extensive local government reform in NSW.
The submission recommends:
- The amalgamation of Botany Bay, Randwick, Woollahra, Waverley and the eastern part of South Sydney into an Eastern Suburbs catchment based council;
- The amalgamation of Leichhardt, Marrickville and of western part of South Sydney into an inner-west catchment based council;
- The retention of the current Sydney City Council boundaries and greater State Government involvement in he management of the CBD;
- The establishment of a commission of inquiry to investigate the benefits of further catchment-based amalgamations in metropolitan Sydney.
Property Council NSW executive director Mark Quinlan said the proposals were shaped after extensive consultations and the completion of three major research papers on the environmental, economic and community representation impacts of amalgamations.
“After extensive analysis and consultation, the overwhelming conclusion we’ve reached is that council amalgamations outside Sydney’s CBD are desperately needed,” Mr Quinlan said.
He said community representation would be enhanced as larger councils use the greater resources at their disposal to enact innovative community participation programs.
“This point has been backed up by a respected local government academic, Glen Inglis, who says, in a paper prepared for the Property Council, local government representation in NSW is poor.
“Local government is NSW is in crisis with a lack of funds and poor resources plaguing the ability of many councils to deliver strong community representation. We believe our proposals will bring local government in line will the public’s expectations.
“The formation of two larger and better resourced councils in the inner city and the eastern suburbs would deliver huge environmental, economic and community benefits to residents in both regions.
“At present, the existing local government system in these areas is under resourced, financially weak and inefficient, all of which combine to harm environmental and planning outcomes, service delivery and community participation.
“In the Eastern Suburbs alone, according to independent research, every ratepayer living in the Woollahra, Waverley, Botany Bay and Randwick municipalities would save at least $110 annually or $31 million collectively if the four councils merged.
“Furthermore, an environmental analysis of council amalgamations the Property Council commissioned, says local government mergers would enhance the management of key natural resources.
“However, while local government mergers are necessary outside the CBD, a compelling case also exists for the retention of Sydney City’s current boundaries and for the creation of stronger links between the council and the State Government.
“Sydney city has special needs, however, if boundaries are expanded, the CBD’s requirements could be potentially undermined by a minority of noisy residents living up to 15 kilometres away in Bondi.
“Expanding the CBD boundaries to include inner city areas would fuel political divisions between the residential and economic needs of the city which could ultimately harm Sydney’s push to attract jobs and investment.
“It is vitally important that Sydney’s CBD be dealt with separately under a partnership between the State Government and the council in terms of development control, business attraction, land management and the formation of a capital city strategy.
“Our proposals will ensure the needs of residents living on the periphery of Sydney’s CBD are given greater attention by better resourced councils while a sharper focus is given to creating a truly international city.”
Mr Quinlan said the Property Council would continue to urge the State Government to expand its inquiry to the remainder of metropolitan Sydney.