Mosman Mayor calls for answers on State Govt campaign

31 August 2015

Mosman Mayor Cr Peter Abelson has called upon the State Government to produce evidence to support its advertising campaign which describes the local government system as needing to be “sorted out”.

Cr Abelson has written to Local Government Minister Paul Toole asking him to provide information supporting the ads’ assertions about comparative numbers of councils in NSW and other states, the quality of services and facilities provided by NSW councils and to provide up to five major examples of poor services in metropolitan Sydney which need to be fixed.

“These ads regrettably denigrate the valuable services provided by local councils without providing any evidence,” Cr Abelson said. “The tagline that ‘It’s time to get councils working better for local communities’ is at odds with feedback from our own community.

“Ninety per cent of respondents in a random survey earlier this year replied that they were at least somewhat satisfied with the performance of Mosman Council and its services across all responsibility areas, including 67% who were satisfied or very satisfied – in line with previous polls.

“Not surprisingly, in separate surveys this year, 82% of respondents supported the continued independence of the Council and strongly opposed forced amalgamations.”

The ads also noted that there are nearly twice as many councils in NSW as in Victoria and Queensland and stated that this system is “not working as well as it should be” and that it is time to “sort it out so councils can invest in better services and facilities for your local community”.

“The reference to the number of councils is seriously misleading as it makes no allowance for differences in population size, functions or geographical area and in any case the OLG has not at any time provided any evidence that councils provide better service in Victoria or Queensland than in NSW (even with rate pegging imposed on councils by the NSW Government for nearly 40 years),” Cr Abelson, an economist, said.

“I receive numerous emails and comments from residents concerned that our community will lose its lovely local feel and, if merged with a large council such as Willoughby, will lose any voice in decisions.

“We need to work together to identify any problems to enable a mature, constructive and respectful debate about how to resolve them.”