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Fit for the Future (10/09/2014)

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Southern Councils Group (SCG) welcomes the Minister for Local Government’s announcement of “Fit for the Future” - the State Government response to the Independent Local Government Review Panel’s report. The response sets a blueprint for changes, the need for which our Councils are well aware of, and are at the forefront of,” said the Deputy Chairman of SCG, Councillor John Wells of Shoalhaven City Council today.

Kiama, Shellharbour, Shoalhaven and Wollongong Councils have been working closely with the Minister for the Illawarra, The Hon. John Ajaka MP, in preparation for the formation of a new regional grouping. Bega Valley Shire Council gave notice of its intention to move into a south-eastern grouping of Councils at the end of this financial year, while Wingecarribee Council has been considering options for the future collaborative arrangements which the State Government proposals will underpin. 

The success of SCG over the past ten years as an advocate for Illawarra and South Coast is demonstrated by its Princes Highway campaign, the outcomes of its annual meetings at Parliament House and the strengths of its close relationships with the University of Wollongong, other peak bodies, the Regional Development Authorities and Members of Parliament from both state and federal spheres of government.

“We need to look at the detail of the package announced today, but generally speaking, it seems to recognise that the changes will require financial support and that a “one size fits all” approach will not work,” said Councillor Wells.  “Our Councils and communities have benefited from over $40M of programs and projects, funded by state and federal governments and delivered cross-regionally by SCG and this work will continue to grow under new arrangements,” he added.

“This joint work in particular has made our Region of Councils one of the strongest and best-performing in NSW,” said Councillor Wells. “The formation of the new joint organisations will only strengthen our work, by bringing the state agencies into closer relationships with local government and better aligning strategic planning.”

Effective partnerships based on the networks of staff who meet regularly to share information, skills and knowledge will not be lost, as SCG member Councils have already committed to continue working together on issues which require a whole of south coast focus; and to working closely with neighbouring “Joint Organisations” where community interests overlap.