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Fit for the Future



Yesterday, Councils across New South Wales were briefed by Premier Mike Baird and the Minister for Local Government Paul Toole in relation to the State Government’s proposal to create new Councils in New South Wales, with plans to create 20 new Councils by merging 42 shires.


Based on the briefing, it is business as usual for Moree Plains Shire Council as a stand-alone council, having already been assessed as ‘Fit’ as part of the local government reform process.


General Manager, Lester Rodgers said, “So far as amalgamations are concerned, the briefings yielded no surprises for this Council. It has put to bed some uncertainties in relation to our region and this Council now has a clear mandate to continue implementing the initiatives we put forward which saw us assessed as ‘Fit’.”


Mayor, Councillor Katrina Humphries also noted that “it was nice to finally have the green light to just get on with the business of delivering the services and infrastructure we’ve committed to provide our community without any distractions hanging over us.”


With regards to Moree Plains Shire continuing to operate as a stand-alone council, Mayor Humphries said that this was the only common sense outcome. “There is a strong community of interest on the Plains” she stated, “and it was good to see this recognised by the Government”.


“We are also truly grateful to the ongoing guidance and support provided to us by our local member, Adam Marshall throughout this reform process,” Mayor Humphries said.


Neighbouring council Gwydir Shire Council (which was found to be ‘not fit’ due to a failure to satisfy all seven financial benchmarks) will also have an opportunity to be reassessed in 2016.


For more information in relation to the State Government’s proposal to create new councils in New South Wales, refer to www.councilboundaryreview.nsw.gov.au






At yesterday’s Council meeting, Moree Plains Shire Council reaffirmed its 30 June position to stand alone and not pursue a merger with Gwydir Shire Council. Given this position, the Council resolved to make no further submission to the State Government in relation to local government reform.


On 30 June this year, Moree Plains Shire Council (like all other councils across New South Wales) made a submission to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) in response to the State Government’s Fit for the Future reform process. Notwithstanding being identified as a potential merger partner for Gwydir Shire Council, the Council’s submission was premised on standing alone as a member of the Namoi Joint Organisation.


In October, Councils across New South Wales learned of IPART’s assessment in relation to the “Fit for the Future” initiative, with Moree Plains Shire Council being one of 43 regional councils assessed as “fit” with the remaining 58 regional councils being “not fit” including Gwydir Shire Council.


The State Government invited all councils assessed as being “not fit” and their neighbours to identify any preferred merging partners by 18 November, with funding offered for voluntary mergers agreed between councils and endorsed by the State Government.


Mayor Councillor Katrina Humphries said, “Over the past few years as this whole reform agenda has been pushed by the State Government, our community has resoundingly indicated a strong desire for the Moree Plains Shire to remain independent and not merge with Gwydir Shire. From what I was hearing in the lead up to our 30 June submission, I understand the Gwydir community also wanted to go it alone.


“To be honest, it’s disappointing that even after being found to be “fit”, this Fit for the Future circus continues. If the State Government truly valued the interests of our ratepayers, we’d be left to get on with the business of delivering on projects and services to our community.


“I know Gwydir intends to affirm its position to stand alone and this Council totally respects that. I feel confident in both our position and that of Gwydir, particularly given that our State Member unequivocally supports both our positions,” said Mayor Humphries.


The State Government have confirmed that it will finalise its position on local government reform by the end of the year.



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