The Independent Local Government Review Panel is expected to 'encourage' Deniliquin Council, Conargo Shire and Murray Shire to merge into one 'super' council in its final report.By Tyla Harrington
The Independent Local Government Review Panel is expected to recommend NSW councils merge to form super councils.
Panel chair Professor Graham Sansom has predicted the report would be complete and delivered to Local Government Minister Don Page at the end of this week.
He admits the report will recommend council mergers and conceded not all findings would be supported by councils.
Deniliquin Council is still in support of mergers, while Conargo Shire maintains its protest against the move.
Deniliquin Council general manager Des Bilske said merging with Murray Shire and Conargo Shire does have its benefits, but said it should not be forced on communities.
‘‘We’ve got no idea what’s going to be in that report until we see it,’’ he said.
‘‘Council has indicated that we can see some advantages out of amalgamating (with Conargo and Murray Shires) but there is no point in trying to amalgamate if the community doesn’t want it.
‘‘It’s just ultimately wasting time and effort if we try and do something that not everyone wants.
‘‘We’re happy to talk to any of the other councils about it but we’re not going to force these issues.’’
Conargo Shire Mayor Norm Brennan said he would continue to oppose any merger with surrounding councils.
‘‘It’s a recommendation and so far the vast majority of papers that have been presented to me do not say it would be a benefit to my community,’’ he said.
‘‘If we’re going to do something like this we’ve got to look at benefits to the community.
‘‘If there are none then why would we pursue the super shire.
‘‘In the opening pages of the report they talk about incentives, .
‘‘They talk about strategy but that doesn’t mean we have to have four or five shires together it means we’ve got to have knowledge.’’
Cr Brennan admitted that Conargo Shire has had some success with mergers – amalgamating with Windouran Shire in 1999 – but said it only worked because Conargo is not a ‘‘super shire’’.
Cr Brennan said he wasn’t sure what would come of the final report but is concerned what ‘‘encourage’’ means in relation to amalgamations.
The draft Local Government Independent Review Panel report released on April 24 recommended Conargo Shire, Murray Shire and Deniliquin Council merge to form one super council.
It also suggested Wakool Shire Council could be rolled into the group.
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