Council Revenues Struggles To Cope

Council Revenues Struggles To Cope

Northern Territory Shadow Minister for Local Government Willem Westra van Holthe

Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures

Victor P Taffa

Revelations that the MacDonnell Shire is outsourcing its management of housing maintenance, tenancy, outstations, electricity and waste services comes as no surprise, Shadow Local Government Minister Willem Westra van Holthe said today.

“In the first instance, I’ve been aware of this move for a number of weeks so I’m surprised the Minister, Malarndirri McCarthy, knew nothing of it until it was published by Fairfax.” Mr. Westra van Holthe said.

“Secondly, this is symptomatic of the broader issues around funding. Not just MacDonnell, but all the Shires.”

“Every single Shire is under extreme financial pressure when it comes to spending the meagre discretionary funding.” Mr. Westra van Holthe said.

“The majority of funding to the Shires is in the form of tied NT or Commonwealth Grants.”

“In some cases, as little as 1% of the shires total revenue comes from rates.”

“The remainder of their funding is insufficient to provide adequate core services in the remote regions, including rubbish collection and disposal, dog control and roads maintenance.” Mr. Westra van Holthe said.

“I shudder to think how the Shires will cope with the basket-case of roads that this Government plans to hand back in 2013.”

“The Minister might not support MacDonnell’s plan to outsource administrative functions, however she must shoulder the responsibility for it.” Mr. Westra van Holthe said.

“Without adequate funding from the Henderson Government for core services, the Shires have to scrimp and save and find efficiencies.”

“MacDonnell Shire Council obviously felt it had no choice but to find those efficiencies offshore.”

“It is often said in relation to the shires that ‘the NT Government gave birth to the baby but has failed to nurture the child.” Mr. Westra van Holthe said.