Ideas out of Bourke

A CONFERENCE held in outback NSW may help change the face of local government.

Councillor Ian Tiley, who travelled to Dubbo last week to attend the conference, described it as a “really encouraging event”.

Cr Tiley said the Destination 2036 Forum had representatives from all 152 councils across NSW.

He said myriad topics had been discussed and was excited about the potential to make local government more relevant and in touch with the community.

“We talked about the need for a more clear definition of the roles of the three levels of government ... and, in particular, the need to access more resources to be able to do what our communities expect us to do,” he said.

“I'm really excited that the sector realises it has got to change; it has got to reform; it's got to get the resources to deliver what the people want.”

Cr Tiley said delegates called for a “growth tax” from the Federal Government and wanted to see different models of local government to suit different localities.

“Obviously, a model of Sydney city doesn't suit Bourke,” he said.

“So we talked about a need to review the Local Government Act; the need to make sure that we as a group ... are well credentialled.”

Other issues discussed included the vexed issue of rate pegging and what Cr Tiley called “the elephant in the room” – the financial sustainability of councils.

“The biggest issue, bar none, through the two days was our long-term financial sustainability,” he said.

“It's about how we address the backlog of necessary infrastructure, particularly on the coastal fringe where we've got the seachange/treechange people.

“That's a huge issue to address, so this is just the beginning of a long journey.”

Cr Tiley said the conference adopted a “bare bones” action plan.

The plan will now be developed by Elton Consulting, which Cr Tiley said would incorporate those visions into a draft action plan for all councils to consider.

“We want to have that signed off with the support of the minister and the State Government by the end of the year,” Cr Tiley said.

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