Will council mergers prove Mike Baird’s undoing?

FFTF_logo_square-300x300NSW Premier Mike Baird’s status as the nation’s most popular politician will be put to the test by his decision to scrap half of the state’s 152 local councils.

Although opinion polls show that local government is the most reviled tier of government across Australia, electors erupt angrily if their municipality is shut down or merged.

Both Jeff Kennett in Victoria and Anna Bligh in Queensland learned that the hard way, but Baird believes his popularity will survive any voter backlash in NSW. The gamble is creating anxiety among Liberal backbenchers in seats where mergers will create new “super” councils.

Councils have been given 30 days to respond to proposals suggested by the government-appointed Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART), headed by Dr Peter Boxall, a leading economic rationalist, former Canberra mandarin and chief of staff to ex-federal treasurer Peter Costello.

Baird has a handpicked implementation team within the NSW Premier’s Department focused on delivering a leaner local government. They provide almost daily reports on the rollout of Baird’s Fit for the Future local government strategy and their military-style timetable is reported to weekly meetings of cabinet.

From Crikey Media article


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