Eleven Joint Organisations (JO) made up of 70 councils across regional NSW were announced today by the Minister for Local Government, Gabrielle Upton, but none of them include Nambucca Shire Council … or Coffs Harbour or Clarence Valley.
Instead there is a Mid North Coast Joint Organisation made up of Bellingen, Kempsey and Port Macquarie-Hastings.
Nambucca Shire mayor, Rhonda Hoban, said the council was a casualty of decisions made by Coffs and Clarence as to their JO preferences.
“We had made it clear to the minister that we would prefer to be with Coffs Harbour as that is where the shire’s greatest community of interest lies,” the mayor said.
“Now we’ll just have to wait and see what is sorted out with the other two councils.
“I anticipate in the future that not being part of a JO will mean those councils are excluded from possible grants that have a regional interest.
“Funding is one of the advantages offered by the NSW Government to being in a JO and we have also been told that member councils can determine for themselves what their JO looks like and how it performs.
“The biggest risk I see with the JOs is they will be another layer of government with more costs and few benefits.”
In a joint statement with the Minister for Regional NSW, John Barilaro, Ms Upton said the NSW Government had introduced an Australian first for regional communities when Parliament passed legislation to establish a network of Joint Organisations late last year.
“Councils across regional NSW were then invited to nominate to join a Joint Organisation. Since then the Office of Local Government has been working closely with councils to assist them to design a Joint Organisation that best suits the needs of their region,” the statement said.
“The NSW Government will now work closely with member councils on the issues that matter most to regional communities such as building strong economies, creating jobs, and improving regional infrastructure, services and facilities.”
Ms Upton said the Government had allocated a total of $3.3 million in seed funding for the Joint Organisation network, tellingly noting that “the small number of councils that have not yet decided to be a part of this initiative are encouraged to act quickly and secure a seat at the table when Joint Organisations start to make key decisions for their region.”
She said the new organisations would deliver real benefits for local communities throughout regional NSW by working across traditional council boundaries to plan and prioritise important initiatives.