Minister Warns Councils To Get Back To Basics

Local councils have been warned that they need to rein in excess and get back to basics.

Minister for Local Government, Natalie Hutchins, has cautioned local councils against using the Andrews Labor Government’s fair go rate cap as an excuse to cut vital staff and services, while they continue to waste money on excessive executive pay and councillor spending.

Ms Hutchins said rate capping would not come into effect until 2016-17 and that any council attempting to blame rate capping on staff or service cuts was failing to be honest with its local community.

Ms Hutchins said rather than trying to blame their own budgeting decisions on the cap, councils should instead consider community need and engage with the Labor Government’s consultation process.

The consultation, being managed by the Essential Services Commission, will consult widely with the local government sector, stakeholders and the community.

The ESC is also developing a framework for the policy to ensure councils can provide important services and programs, while cutting waste.

Councils seeking to increase their rates above inflation will be given the opportunity to make their case before the Essential Services Commission, with reasonable requests considered.

As committed to before the election, the Labor Government will ensure a fair go for ratepayers by capping council rate increases at the rate of inflation.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Local Government, Natalie Hutchins

“Our rate cap is still more than a year away – blaming any cuts to essential services on capping is unfair and dishonest to local communities.”

“This is not about cutting staff and services. It’s about encouraging councils to get back to the things that matter to their communities.”

“Councils need to put a stop to over-the-top executive pay rises and needless waste.”