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Leadership needed to act on local government reform

The Productivity Commission's exhaustive report on improving the performance and efficiency of local government is just the first step towards effective reform of the sector, according to Business Central.

"The local government funding and financing inquiry report released this afternoon contains important ideas on improving local government operations and better outcomes for ratepayers," says Chief Executive John Milford.

"The report's overall conclusion that the main funding tools ‘measure up well’ should have pushed further to give councils greater flexibility to raise the funds needed to build critical infrastructure.

"Councils' ability to cater for their growing populations as well as improving the resilience of core infrastructure to natural disasters is compromised without access to additional funding tools.

"However, the recommendations from the 2007 Shand Inquiry were left collecting dust. The same must not happen again.

"Businesses are urging both central and local government leaders to embrace the Commission's recommendations and get on with implementing them.

"The Commission recommends scrapping the business rates multiplier. Too often we see councils exploiting businesses for rates revenue for no other reason than a perceived ability to pay.

"It is pleasing to see the Commission reinforce our position that councils should consider selling down existing commercial assets in order to fund the construction of new assets. Recycling assets reduces the burden on ratepayers while still providing the infrastructure a growing economy needs.

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"Many recommendations aim to lift councils' transparency and communication with ratepayers. We applaud the publication of mandatory performance metrics and itemised rates bills, hopefully this will lead to greater accountability.

"Once again central government is asked to work more closely with local government so that any new initiatives imposing additional costs on councils can be afforded.

"Our members thank the staff of the Productivity Commission for their willingness to engage throughout the process and their comprehensive inquiry report published today."


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