Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Conargo mayor vows to tackle decentralisation

Conargo Shire Mayor Norm Brennan says the NSW Coalition’s Local Land Service proposal demonstrates a ‘‘failed election promise’’.

November 27, 2012 4:50am

Conargo Shire Mayor Norm Brennan has vowed to work with Deniliquin Council in an effort to try and protect local government jobs.

Cr Brennan said the NSW Coalition’s Local Land Service (LLS) proposal demonstrated a ‘‘failed election promise’’ to tackle decentralisation.

While he said he was unsure what local government could achieve in this debate, the Conargo mayor promised to ‘‘do what I can’’.

The Department of Primary Industry (DPI), Murray Catchment Management Authority (Murray CMA) and Livestock Health and Pest Authority (LHPA), all with offices Deniliquin, face job losses because of the LLS proposal.

The proposal would see the DPI, CMA and LHPA merged into one ‘super organisation’.

‘‘I get the impression [the proposal] is set in stone, even our local member seems to have written it off as fait accompli,’’ Cr Brennan said.

‘‘This continual effort by the government on a one size fits all basis continues to amaze me.

‘‘We can send delegations to Sydney, but you have to wonder what effect it will have when there is no traction on the ground.’’

Deniliquin Council confirmed it had already held discussions with the NSW Government on the LLS proposal.

General manager Des Bilske said he and Deniliquin Mayor Lindsay Renwick spoke with Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson’s office about local job loss concerns.

Mr Bilske said council made it clear to Ms Hodgkinson’s chief of staff and media officers that the loss of more jobs and services in the town was worrying.

‘‘Council has highlighted to them that any loss of jobs locally creates an issue within the community, and any withdrawal of state government services is considered to be in conflict with the state government policy of decentralisation of government.

‘‘The advice we have received indicates that there will not be a withdrawal of services, however, for efficiency reasons, several may be relocated to other areas.

‘‘It should be noted that there are also some services that may be relocated from other areas to Deniliquin.

‘‘It has been highlighted that currently the regional (LLS) office preferred site is Deniliquin and we will continue to support this.

‘‘While council has no formal role in the rearrangements we will continue to work with the minister’s office and Local Land Services to ensure that the required range and level of services delivered through their organisation is available to our community.’’

Seven of eight DPI positions will be affected by the government’s plan to develop a new super organisation, and at least 15 Murray CMA positions from across Deniliquin, Buronga and Albury are expected to be cut.

The LHPA will be brought into the merger at a later date, with the number of jobs impacted at the Deniliquin Riverina LHPA head office not yet known.

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