By TCCI Chair, Susan Parr
Tasmania is growing like Topsy who is outgrowing her clothes, shoes and bed.
Like Topsy, Tasmania now is outgrowing our governance systems and our capacity to manage and plan across a range of current and future challenges.
Tasmania’s population is just over 500,000. We have 29 councils with 263 elected members.
The oft repeated motherhood statement that “local government is the tier of government closest to the people” and therefore is the “most representative” is too readily accepted.
Having so many elected members for such a small state raises the question of “who is representing whom or what?”
It is clear that with such a concentration of representation, self-interest, personal preferences and philosophies assume an importance that is disproportionate to the total community interest.
I believe that it has encouraged Tasmanians to think that, if as an individual, I do not like or approve of a proposal, then I can expect it to be stopped or significantly modified.
Because a candidate for election only needs a very few votes to succeed, the whole community perspective is not rigorously considered.
There is no incentive to consider how neighbouring municipalities might be impacted, so the whole state continues to have absurd differences in service provision.
The recent deplorable results of local government performance in governance, financial planning and the provision of services is a warning that we cannot continue as we have.
The system is broken and threatens the future.
Tasmania has a unique opportunity to create a more capable, better skilled and informed local government system to serve the 500,000 people who live here and to ensure that services provided by local government meet the current and future needs of all Tasmanians.
It is time to bite the bullet.