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.
- financial flexibility,
- debt service capacity and
- asset management.
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’.
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