FIT FOR THE FUTURE PROCESS – SEVERELY CRITICISED
MAJOR CONCERNS AND CRITICISMS were raised regarding the GOVERNMENTS FIT FOR THE FUTURE PROCESS. In particular the “Scale and Capacity” criteria, which was poorly defined, unmeasurable, and inconsistently applied. There were concerns that the Government was using this flawed criteria to “fail” councils that were actually financially fit and sustainable, as an excuse to push through their mega-amalgamation agenda.
This triggered an UPPER HOUSE PARLIAMENTARY INQUIRY: This was a bipartisan committee chaired by Paul Green MLC and consisted of Liberal and Labour and Greens and Christian Democrat members. They undertook an extensive inquiry with over one thousand submissions in writing and/or on line, expert witnesses and public hearings.
THE UPPER HOUSE INQUIRY – RESULTS SCATHING OF FFTF PROCESS
The results recently released, were scathing of the Governments Fit For The Future process.
The report called for the Government to:
A: Commit to No Forced Amalalgamation, citing that evidence did not support it.
B: Withdraw the claims that councils were “unfit” based on the “SCALE and CAPACITY criteria. (They found that this criteria was FLAWED, and NOT SOUND as an indicator of “fitness”)
The inquiry also STRONGLY SUPPORTED THE JRA MODEL of Hunters Hill, Lanecove and Ryde.
Here are some key excerpts from the UPPER HOUSE PARLIAMENTARY INQUIRY
Finding 5: That the scale and capacity criterion was a flawed criterion and it should not have been included in the Fit for the Future assessment criteria and accordingly assessments of councils’ fitness based on this threshold criterion are not well-founded.
Finding 9: That the projected economic benefits of council amalgamations have been consistently overstated by the proponents of forced amalgamations and the costs and extensive diseconomies of scale caused by amalgamations have not been adequately explained by those same proponents.
Recommendation 1: That the Premier and NSW Government withdraw the statements that 71 per cent of councils in metropolitan Sydney and 56 per cent of regional councils are ‘unfit’.