The NSW Local Government Review Panel has proposed amalgamating many of NSW’s councils into larger mega-councils, including one Sydney metro behemoth comprising at least Sydney City, Randwick, Waverly, Woollahra and Botany Bay. This council would govern from six to eight hundred thousand residents. The proposal includes two other amalgamations into council areas exceeding half a million residents too (and Blacktown is projected to clear that bar alone in the next 20 years).
Amalgamating successful independent councils into mega-councils runs counter to the review’s stated goals of building a sustainable system of local government up to the challenge of strategic change and rapid innovation. Larger institutions necessarily have a less local focus. Concentrating more power in fewer hands increases the risks of, temptations to, and damage caused by pursuing human self-interest, necessitating more structure, checks and balances, red tape, and other security mechanisms. And larger councils are less able to experiment, a crucial component of innovation, as the cost of making the necessary mistakes increases beyond that politically justifiable.
Politics is the price we pay for increasing the size of the groups and institutions we form. Mega-councils will mean more politics, more overhead, more corruption, and less change. Read my submission to the review opposing mega-council amalgamations. You, too, can make a submission until the extended deadline of July 19th.