Local Government concerns

Gutwein

INTERNAL fighting and a poor performance with water and sewerage infrastructure upgrades have been highlighted by the Local Government Minister at the recent Local Government Association of Tasmania meeting.

Peter Gutwein said there was clear evidence of ineffective and dysfunctional governance in some councils, calling on leaders to put the community ahead of internal conflicts.

Mr Gutwein said the targeted review of the Local Government Act would play a role in improving governance framework.

He said the process of examining the feasibility of local government resource sharing and amalgamation was progressing and would soon be completed.

“Communities want improved service delivery and better value for money and I expect local government leaders to respect this and, where the studies indicate that change will improve outcomes for their ratepayers, that they have the courage to deliver those changes,” Mr Gutwein said.

Mr GutweinI also addressed issues regarding Tasmania’s water and sewerage infrastructure, specifically the request from TasWater and the Councils for a $1.8 billion investment program to address the performance issues in the sector.

That proposal was based on a commitment of $400 million over the decade from the State and Federal Governments, and would see the Councils cap returns from TasWater. Under that plan, councils would continue to benefit from around $300 million in returns over the period, while retaining around $80 million within TasWater for reinvestment.

In the absence of a Federal Government commitment and as a result of losing $500 million in GST revenue, he said the State Government was not in a position to bridge that $400 million gap over the 10 year period proposed.

“It is disappointing that over the eight years since the water and sewerage reform process began, many of these issues that confronted the system back in 2008 still remain, notwithstanding prices increasing by around eight per cent annually over that period,” he said.

“Local government, as the level of Government responsible for water and sewerage and owners of TasWater, must be prepared to do more to address this issue.

“We will continue to work with local government to find a solution that enables the investment needed whilst ensuring that price increases are modest and affordable.”

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