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D-day looming for municipal council reforms

THE future shape and structure of local government in Tasmania is expected to be known by the end of September. The State Government recently released the Stage 2 Interim Report of the Future of Local Government Review.

Local Government minister Nic Street said the board’s position at the end of Stage 2 was that Tasmania’s current 29-council system was having “a significant and detrimental impact on the ability of councils to attract and retain key staff, to uniformly manage assets well, and to deliver important regulatory functions.”

“This has led the board to conclude … that the status quo is not an optimal or sustainable model for the sector, that some form of consolidation is necessary to deliver greater economies of scale and scope, and that this consolidation will not happen voluntarily,” Mr Street said.

The board has divided the state into nine “community catchments” but Mr Street insisted this did not necessarily mean there would be nine councils at the end of the review. “The board has said it will work closely with councils and communities in those catchments to explore what the future of our local government sector could look like to serve these connected communities, and to enhance service delivery and local representation for Tasmanians,” Mr Street said.

The Derwent Valley municipality has been placed into two of the “community catchments”.

  • Central and Midlands Consultation Group: Central Highlands, Derwent Valley, Brighton, Southern Midlands, Northern Midlands, Meander Valley.
  • Western Shore Consultation Group: Hobart, Glenorchy, Brighton, Kingborough, Derwent Valley.

“These catchments do not represent final, or even preliminary, recommendations on council boundaries, they are simply a way to encourage conversations among local areas,” Mr Street said.

The board has published a 126-page report of its interim findings, as well as a 26-page summary. These can be found online at engage.futurelocal.tas.gov.au. It has also provided the following timeline for the next steps in the review process:
 May 2023: Release of information packs for community catchments.
 June 21: Written submissions close.
 Late June: Public hearings start.
 July: End of public hearings.
 August: The Local Government Board prepares its Stage 3 report.
 September 30: The board submits its Stage 3 report to the minister.

A major element of the review, dealing with the issue of councils’ role in assessing development applications, has been removed and referred to the minister for planning.

See more Derwent Valley and Central Highlands news

One Comment

  1. The word “Catchment” caught my eye. As climate change accelerates, water will be of increasing importance, for Hydro, washing and drinking. I have always thought that the way to divide up a populated land mass is to map the the river catchments, (“valley”s, I suppose, to the layman) and add their populations together to make areas of 20-5,000 people. At least then we would be acknowledging nature in something.

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