Brighton calls for end of Property Council bias

BRIGHTON Council has called on the Property Council to end its biased push for council amalgamations and support a serious consideration of resource sharing as a better and more acceptable alternative.

Acting Brighton Mayor Barbara Curran said the recent Property Council address by former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett was nothing more than a propaganda exercise, short on facts that simply pushed the big city property owners’ vested interests.

Cr Curran said Mr Kennett was an interesting choice of speaker given that his forced council amlagamations in Victoria had contributed to his party losing government in the State and had imposed considerable costs on ratepayers.

She said instead of constantly pushing costly council amalgamations to benefit big city property owners at the expense of household ratepayers, the Property Council should be encouraging resource sharing that was already providing considerable savings for all ratepayers in participating councils.

Brighton Council is an active member of the Tasmanian Common Service Joint Venture that now comprises seven Tasmanian councils and four in the Northern Territory.

Cr Curran said along with Brighton’s MicroWise software cost saving benefits, participating councils collectively save approximately $2.3 million last financial year, with even larger savings anticipated this year.

“Brighton and our joint venture partners are currently exchanging some 1200 hours of services each month, equating to approximately nine full-time equivalent staff members working between the councils,” she said.

“Around 15,000 hours of services were exchanged between the councils last year, providing $1.2 million in savings to the group that were passed on to ratepayers in the form of increased services and holding down rate increases.

“In addition, 27 councils sharing our Microwise software are achieving annual savings of $1.1 million by not having to use alternative more expensive software.

“These are real and significant savings and clearly demonstrate the potential to deliver substantial and measurable benefits for ratepayers in the future, and considerably better than the risks associated with amalgamations.

“Brighton is also working with our neighbouring Councils – Southern Midlands, Derwent Valley and Central Highlands – to see how we can jointly benefit our municipalities and our immediate region.”

Cr Curran said rather than continue to push its amalgamation call, selfishly designed to benefit just a few big city building owners, the Property Council should be encouraging all councils to share resources and services so all Tasmanian ratepayers could enjoy the resulting benefits.