Bigger councils aren’t fitter, so why is the State Government trying to make our councils less fit?

An analysis by academics from three universities comparing the financial performance of Australia’s biggest council Brisbane, with comparable councils shows that “bigger” or “biggest” is not best.

Is Biggest Best? A Comparative Analysis of the Financial Viability of the Brisbane City Council compared Brisbane to Sydney City Council, six south-east Queensland councils and the average of 10 metropolitan NSW councils using four key performance indicators:
  1. financial flexibility,
  2. liquidity,
  3. debt service capacity and
  4. asset management.
It found that Brisbane was outperformed by the other smaller councils in the first three indicators over the period from 2008 to 2011.

Dr Elisabeth Sinnewe

The analysis by Dr Elisabeth Sinnewe (Queensland University of Technology), Dr Michael Kortt (Southern Cross University) and Professor Brian Dollery (University of New England) was published in the peer-reviewed Australian Journal of Public Administration.

“Council amalgamations are always controversial and can bitterly split local communities,” the authors said. “The empirical evidence suggests that council amalgamations have repeatedly failed to meet expectations.

“Despite the lack of supporting evidence, the NSW government still favours council amalgamations under the doctrine that ‘bigger councils are better’.

Read more.

The question we must ask ourselves is WHY?

Professor Brian Dollery | 2GB podcast also added that larger councils are actually less fit than smaller councils and the NSW people are being “scammed” by the NSW government.

Key points in the podcast include:

  • No evidence of lower costs, or more efficiencies or financial viability from amalgamation – no relationship between size and financial viability
  • Dollery mentions the ridiculous story that to save the village it is necessary to destroy the village.
  • Bigger government is not necessarily better – lots of evidence from around the world.
  • The minister Paul Toole has not released any materials that support the case for amalgamation – no cost benefit analysis provided.
  • Why weren’t the amalgamations that were conducted in 2004 examined to see what effects they had. It is amazing that these amalgamations were not examined.
  • Alan refers to platitudes being used to justify amalgamation such as amalgamations are necessary for ‘ Sydney to become a global city’, and then makes the point that London (LGA is made up of 32 boroughs)  and LA (15 councils) have multiple councils.
  • At the end of the interview Jones mentions that Pittwater was de-amalgamated in the 1990s and now the proposal is to amalgamate Warringah and Manly with Pittwater against the wishes of the people.
  • Dollery looked at a model of what would happen in a merger of these three councils and there was no change – no benefits.
  • Merging councils is expensive – cost in Qld was around $8M for each merger.  Rate payers will be the people covering the costs

2 thoughts on “Bigger councils aren’t fitter, so why is the State Government trying to make our councils less fit?

  1. marackham says:

    Dear Janet,

    Welcome back from the South Coast. Do hope that you were able to avoid the wet weather.

    Have you heard of anyone can make this evenings meeting. Unfortunately I have a planning meeting this evening with our group.

    I shall be going into the Domain tomorrow, just hope the weather improves, won’t be much fun wearing a t shirt in this weather.


    Sent from my iPhone



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s