Cr Ernie Bennett Kyogle Shire Council
Cr Ernie Bennett Kyogle Shire Council Ernie Bennett

RVC’s NOROC exit ‘may be irrelevant’

RICHMOND Valley Council's move to ditch its membership of NOROC is likely to be overshadowed by imminent changes to the shape of local government in NSW, according to NOROC chair Jenny Dowell.

NOROC - the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils - plays a key role in lobbying the state and federal government on regionally significant issues.

According to past NOROC chair and Richmond Valley Mayor Ernie Bennett - who led the motion to leave NOROC - it had "lost its way" and elements of the voting system were undemocratic.

Cr Bennett said the group should stick to lobbying only on issues where there was consensus rather than contentious ones such as the recent vote to fund CSG baseline research (which Richmond Valley opposed).

While the move has been labelled as "partisan politics" by some, Cr Dowell said the decision might ultimately prove irrelevant.

"The shape of local government may be on the brink of changing by this time next year… it may well be compulsory that councils belong to their local ROCs," Cr Dowell said.

The NSW Independent Local Government Review Panel will deliver the findings of its three-year investigation to Local Government Minister Don Page in July.

One controversial recommendation expected to be made is large-scale amalgamations.

Jude Munro, a member of the independent panel, said "one of the failings" of ROCs was their voluntary membership.

"There needs to be some type of organisation of councils and local government that does have continuity of membership and is able to represent the interests of the people of those regions," Ms Munro said.

It was important for NSW to "lift its game" in regional strategic planning and economic development.

"The panel believes that it will be necessary for regions to be able to perform those functions, and for councils to be part of those processes."

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