Great hospitality at the Country Club in Launceston on a cold but beautiful day! Jeff Kennett was the headline speaker at an event hosted by the Property Council of Australia. The Hot Topic was: Council Amalgamations and it attracted a rather large audience of a very attentive group of Councillors and Local Government Administrators from across the State.
After expanding on his experiences as Victorian Premier during a period of controversial council amalgamations, his advice was effectively if you’re not a sustainable council now, you need to become one! It wasn’t a controversial message, and one which seemed to resonate with quite a few in the room.
However, the ideas didn’t really engage with issues from a community perspective; primarily, how locals will feel about losing the power of self-determination, especially in regions which are remote/isolated, or areas with really unique characteristics. A number of people, both elected and community members, I spoke to were nervous about establishing super-councils where services may be compromised and good old fashioned customer service goes out of the window.
Whatever transpires on this issue, one would hope the needs of the individual communities are taken into account. Interesting times ahead.
Jeff also spoke admirably on topics of youth unemployment, economic activation (build better ports for tourism in Tasmania & sensitively exploit your natural assets), mental health and learning new things (he is learning to play the piano).