West Coast councils united against rate capping

THE west coast’s councils are united in their opposition to the state government’s legislation to introduce rate capping to councils.

Elliston, Wudinna and Streaky Bay councils all voted against the bill after the Local Government Association asked all councils to consider the matter and provide a response by August 3.

Elliston District Council chairman Kym Callaghan said evidence from interstate showed rate capping did not work.

“Through the LGA, myself and Phil Cameron went to a special meeting last month which was one of the best forums I’ve been to,” he said.

“I’ve been hearing figures for a long time and there were New South Wales and Victorian representatives (at the meeting) to do presentations that showed 40 years of rate capping has made them go backwards to a degree.

“They are hundreds of millions of dollars behind in infrastructure maintenance and it creates a false economy which stifles growth and wage growth.”

Mr Callaghan said if the government got their way, the Essential Services Commission of South Australia (ESCOSA) would be in charge but they “did not even have a formula for it”.

“You have to go on models from interstate which show it doesn’t work – when you hear cold hard facts, why follow a path that is a recipe for disaster?

He said if Labor voted against it, as he thought they would, with other independents, he thought the Bill would be defeated.

The Wudinna council’s chief executive officer Alan McGuire said its decision to oppose the bill was unanimous.

He said the council believed it was going to restrain its operations and effectively constrain local democracy.

Yet Mr McGuire said given the government had made rate capping a policy to pursue, if it did pass they would “have to manage”.

Streaky Bay chief executive officer Joy Hentschke said the council’s opposition came from uncertainty over the model.

“I don’t think there is the flexibility available to manage the income and expenses of local council and what the community requires.

“At this stage the model proposed appears to be based on Victoria, but there are no concrete results.

“Through my review of the impact under the proposed model, it appears it won’t have a major impact on Streaky Bay and that is due to robust conservative management from consecutive councils.”

She said she expected rate capping would be introduced.

Ceduna chief executive officer Geoff Moffatt said the council received information but had not formally discussed the matter before the deadline.