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Baird ‘splurges big’ in push for council mergers

NSW premier Mike Baird confronted by protesters against forced council amalgamations in NSW in Sydney on January 18. AAP Image/Paul Miller

NSW premier Mike Baird confronted by protesters against forced council amalgamations in NSW in Sydney on January 18. AAP Image/Paul Miller

The NSW coalition government has splurged almost $6 million of taxpayer’s money on external consultants in the last six months to further its program of forced council amalgamations, according to the NSW Opposition.

The latest revelation – gleaned from a Freedom of Information request – shows that up until January 1 2016 the Baird government has spent $2.2 million on an advertising campaign pushing council amalgamations.

Shadow minister for local government Peter Primrose said the government spent $1,863,427.67 to buy print and TV spots for the Stronger Councils, Stronger Communities Campaign.

Mr Primrose said it paid $364,304.46 to Saatchi & Saatchi to come up with the ad’s central premise, that the state’s councils are mechanical cogs that are holding back NSW.

It brings to $5,962,177.67 the amount of taxpayers’ money that the Baird government has spent on its local government ‘reforms’.

Based on information from GIPA requests and publicly available tender documents, the NSW Opposition has compiled a list, which includes:

·         KPMG ‘Local Government Reforms: Options and Analysis’ in November/December 2015 approximately $400,000
·         Elton Consulting Facilitate Workshop for Joint Organisation Pilot December 2015 to March 2016, $212,751
·         IPART – Final Report – Assessment of Council Fit for the Future proposals  released October 2015 – approximately $1,610,000
·         Qualitative Research for the Local Government Reform Taskforce in July/August 2015 approximately $200,000
·         KPMG Local Government Reform Scenario Modelling July/August 2015 $499,895
·         IPART “Review of Regulatory Burdens on Local Government” June 2015, costing taxpayers $811,800
Mr Primrose said the Baird government ‘has wasted millions of dollars on external advertising and consultancy fees’.

‘This money has been spent to con the public that the Liberal’s gerrymandering is in their best interest,’ he said.

‘The government will stoop to any level to get their forced amalgamation agenda through.

‘A multi-million dollar ad campaign will not distract anyone from the fact that the Baird government has yet to release any information which proves their claimed financial savings.’


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