The NSW Independent Local Government Review Panel’s final report, Revitalising Local Government, has just been released.
The Panel was established in March 2012 and was asked to look at ways to strengthen the effectiveness of local government in NSW. The review process involved three rounds of consultation, as well as extensive research into all areas of local government cooperation.
While the Panel concluded its work and reported to the State Government in October last year, the report has only just been released by the Division of Local Government today. According to the DLG circular, councils have until 7th March to lodge written submissions.
The Panel has concluded that new directions must be pursued to “revitalise the culture, structures and operations of NSW local government”, as well as its relationship with the State Government. The final report’s introduction notes that the Panel’s goal was:
A more sustainable system of democratic local government with added capacity to meet the needs of local and regional communities, and to be a valued partner of State and federal governments.
As part of the independent research commissioned by the Panel to support the review process, Gooding Davies Consultancy was asked to prepare a paper on options to enhance regional collaboration amongst councils and in particular the role of Regional Organisations of Councils (ROCs). As noted in the report this research has helped inform the Panel’s thinking on regional collaboration, which has led to recommendations for the establishment of Joint Organisations of councils (see Section 11). A copy of this research paper can be found in the Research Report which makes up Volume 2 of the supporting documents.
Local Government NSW has criticised the limited time for councils to prepare responses and has called on the NSW Premier to extend the consultation period until the end of April 2014. The association’s media release notes that because the report is “extremely detailed and complex and there are significant changes in the Review Panel’s recommendations since the last discussion paper”, councils and communities will need more time to discuss its implications.
A summary of the report’s key findings and recommendations especially in relation to regional collaboration will be provided in a future post.