Media Room

NSW Local Government Reforms

In this update:

1. NSW council amalgamations – decision made
2. Interim council operations
3. New local government integrity regime

1. NSW council amalgamations – decision made

Premier Mike Baird and Minister for Local Government Paul Toole have today announced the creation of 19 new councils in NSW, as part of the Government’s Fit for the Future program to rationalise the local government sector.

The announcement follows the Boundaries Commission’s submission of its final report into the amalgamation process last Tuesday.
The Commission approved 35 mergers in total. Of that 35, NSW Cabinet agreed earlier today that 19 are ready for immediate enactment.

1.1 The Baird Government decided to proceed with the following council mergers:

    (a) Greater Sydney Councils

  • Canterbury-Bankstown Council (formerly Bankstown and Canterbury City Councils)
  • City of Parramatta Council (formerly parts of Parramatta, Auburn and Holroyd City Councils, as well as parts of the Hills and Hornsby Shire Councils)
  • Cumberland Council (formerly parts of Parramatta, Auburn and Holroyd City Councils)
  • Georges River Council (formerly Hurstville and Kogarah City Councils)
  • Inner West Council (formerly Ashfield, Leichhardt Municipal and Marrickville Councils)
  • Northern Beaches Council (formerly Manly, Pittwater and Warringah Councils)
    (b) Regional Councils

  • Armidale Regional Council (formerly Armidale Dumaresq and Guyra Shire Councils)
  • Central Coast Council (formerly Gosford City and Wyong Shire Councils)
  • Edward River Council (formerly Conargo Shire and Deniliquin Councils)
  • Federation Council (formerly Corowa and Urana Shire Councils)
  • Gundagai Council (formerly Cootamundra Shire and Gundagai Councils)
  • Hilltops Council (formerly Boorowa and Harden and Young Shire Councils)
  • Mid-Coast Council (formerly Gloucester Shire, Great Lakes and Greater Taree City Councils)
  • Murray River Council (formerly Murray and Wakool Shire Councils)
  • Murrumbidgee Council (formerly Jerilderie and Murrumbidgee Shire Councils)
  • Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (formerly Queanbeyan City and Palerang Councils)
  • Snowy Monaro Regional Council (formerly Bombala and Cooma Monaro and Snowy River Shire Councils)
  • Snowy Valleys Council (formerly Tumut and Tumbarumba Shire Councils)
  • Western Plains Regional Council (formerly Dubbo City and Wellington Councils)

1.2 A final decision is yet to be made with respect to the following proposed council mergers:

  • Armidale Dumaresq, Guyra and Uralla Shire and Walcha Councils (note: Armidale Dumaresq and Guyra Shire Councils have now been merged into the Armidale Regional Council, whilst Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has already intervened to prevent Walcha Council merging with Tamworth City Council)
  • Burwood, City of Canada Bay and Strathfield Councils
  • City of Botany Bay and Rockdale City Councils
  • Dungog Shire and Maitland City Councils
  • Dubbo City Council and Wellington Council
  • Ku-ring-gai and parts of Hornsby Shire Councils
  • Newcastle City and Port Stephens Councils
  • Wollongong City Council and Shellharbour City Council

1.3 The following council mergers have the approval of Minister Toole but await the decision of court challenges:

  • Cabonne is opposing mergers with with Blayney Shire and Orange City Councils
  • Hunters Hill is opposing mergers with Lane Cove and City of Ryde Councils
  • Mosman Municipal is opposing mergers with North Sydney and Willoughby City Councils
  • Oberon is opposing a merger with Bathurst Regional Council
  • Woollahra is opposing mergers with Randwick City and Waverley Councils

    The Government is understood to be hoping that, should Woollahra’s action in the Land and Environment Court fail, other council challenges will be withdrawn.

1.4 The Baird Government is understood not to be proceeding with previously proposed mergers between:

  • Berrigan and parts of Jerilderie Shire Councils
  • Boorowa and Young Shire Councils
  • Cootamundra, Gundagai and Harden Shire Councils
  • Corowa, Lockhart and Urana Shire Councils
  • Dungog and Gloucester Shire Councils
  • Goulburn Mulwaree and parts of Palerang Councils
  • Hawkesbury City and Hills Shire Councils
  • Kiama Municipal and Shoalhaven City Councils
  • Manly, Mosman Municipal and parts of Warringah Councils
  • Murrumbidgee and parts of Jerilderie Shire Councils
  • North Sydney and Willoughby City Councils
  • Queanbeyan City and parts of Palerang Councils
  • Pittwater and parts of Warringah Councils
  • Tamworth Regional and Walcha Councils

2. Interim council operations

Elections for the newly merged councils are scheduled to take place on 9 September 2017, while elections for those councils currently opposing amalgamation will take place next in March 2018, by which time their claims should be resolved.

As a temporary measure prior to these elections, the Government has decided to appoint interim administrators and general managers to ensure the amalgamated councils function properly. In addition, mayors and councillors of former council areas that have cooperated with the amalgamation process have been given the opportunity to serve on new Implementation Advisory Groups (“IAG”), to advise administrators about key decisions made over the next 15 months until council elections. At least two representatives from each former council will be appointed to each new council’s IAG.

Existing Local Government Plans will remain in force.
Under the Baird Government’s Fit for the Future agenda, each newly merged council will receive up to $10 million funding to smooth the amalgamation process, and up to $15 million further funding for investment in new infrastructure.
A review of the merged councils will be conducted in four years.

3. New local government integrity regime

The Premier has revealed a tough new regulatory regime for councillors in a bid to improve public perceptions of the local government sector.
Councillors and general managers are now banned from being involved in the planning approval process for applications in which they, their spouse or a relative has a financial interest.

They will also no longer be able to accept political donations greater than $2,500, and will be required to hand over to the Government any financial benefit acquired from their voting on a development in which they have a pecuniary interest.

Furthermore, persons (a) convicted within the past seven years of a crime carrying a sentence of five or more year’s jail time, and (b) convicted of an offence under the Election Funding Expenditure and Disclosures Act 1981 within the past two years, will no longer be eligible to stand for council.

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