'Super council' call takes flight

NORTHERN Rivers councils should be dissolved and replaced with a super council stretching from the Clarence to the Queensland border, according to Kyogle councillor Peter Lewis.

Cr Lewis made the comment after contacting The Northern Star to lend an unprecedented voice of support to his colleague and long-time foe, Kyogle mayor Ernie Bennett.

Cr Bennett was last week reported saying, in his capacity as the president of the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils, that Australia's states should be replaced with a two-tier system of regional governments and a Commonwealth Government.

Cr Lewis backed the idea, suggesting an amalgamation of the Kyogle, Richmond Valley, Lismore, Ballina, Byron, Tweed and Clarence Valley councils as a starting point.

The individual identities and voices of North Coast communities could be protected by installing a series of advisory councils within existing council boundaries, while the larger body would deliver improved services to residents by virtue of a larger budget and savings from shared expenses.

Allowing the existing structure to continue would mean councils continuing to struggle with inadequate resources and 'parochial' decisions that did not benefit the region.

"Our administration budget (at Kyogle) is the same as our rates base. It's crazy," Cr Lewis said.

And while council amalgamations are rarely well received by ratepayers and residents, Cr Lewis said he believed this one would be welcomed if it were explained properly.

Cr Bennett said he was surprised and pleased at Cr Lewis' support, although the pair were unlikely to join forces to go spruiking the plan.

Cr Bennett said his proposal, which would set up 20 regional governments across NSW, would give the Northern Rivers a local government about the size of Cr Lewis' super council.


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