Brighton lobbies against push for amalgamation

BRIGHTON Council is lobbying the State Parliament and other southern councils following its decision to resist the current push for the establishment of a greater Hobart council comprising the municipal areas of Hobart, Clarence, Glenorchy, Kingborough and Brighton.

The Council has written to all members of State Parliament, the Mayors of the 12 Southern Councils and key property developers and business leaders, putting forward its case why Brighton should not be forced into the current merger proposal.

Mayor Tony Foster pointed out that Brighton Council was not against local government amalgamation where it could be demonstrated by clear evidence that it benefited ratepayers.

“However, our strong opposition to this current campaign is because of the severely detrimental impact it would have on the ratepayers of Brighton and on our community,” Cr Foster said.

“For example, rate equalisation as a result of amalgamation under the current proposal would see residential rates in Brighton rising by up to 40 percent. Obviously, such an impact on some of the most disadvantaged people in our community is unacceptable to my Council and I believe would be considered unacceptable to all fair-minded Tasmanians.

“The campaign by Tasmanians for Reform and the Property Council to force local government amalgamation on Tasmanian ratepayers must undergo the closest scrutiny and requires a thorough examination of all the facts rather than the rhetoric and selective information provided to date.

“The proponents are asking us to take on faith, the promise of savings never before achieved in any amalgamation of local government in Australia.

Brighton Council has taken advice from Australia’s foremost authority on local government reform, Professor Brian Dollery, the Director of the Centre for Local Government at the University of New England in New South Wales, who has pointed out that recent amalgamations in Queensland and elsewhere in Australia, had actually resulted in increased costs for ratepayers and higher rates.

“Reports promoted by Tasmanians for Reform and the Property Council conveniently ignore the most recent experience in Queensland where the costs of amalgamation have reached $184.7 million and continue to grow. As an example in the amalgamation in Moreton Bay on Brisbane’s outskirts, rate equalisation has seen some ratepayers facing increases of 18.1 per cent,” Cr Foster said.

“A real question is who will pay for the costs of the proposed Tasmanian amalgamation – the State Government, the affected councils, or ratepayers? One thing is certain: it will not be the vested interests currently campaigning for amalgamation.

“For its part, Brighton Council will not accept any proposal that disadvantages Brighton ratepayers and residents, or that ignores Brighton’s low rates regime supported by our fair rating and the significant financial and social achievements of Brighton over the past decade,” Cr Foster said.