ADJOURNMENT DEBATE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT CONSULTATION
My adjournment matter tonight is for the Minister for Local Government, and it concerns the failure of some councils to properly consult with their constituencies prior to making significant investments utilising ratepayer and taxpayer moneys. Local government is designed first and foremost to represent ratepayers and their local communities and deliver outcomes through expenditure in the interests of ratepayers. It should not operate on the grandiose whims of some councillors and big-spending CEOs.
Streetscapes have become a cause célèbre for many councils and inevitably involve highly paid consultants, often located inside the tram tracks of Melbourne. The designs often appear as cut-andpastes and follow a set formula. Before any actual work is undertaken, the consultant bill is in the tens of thousands and more. The origin of the need for an extravagant streetscape usually emanates from a relatively minor issue involving drainage, footpaths, street upgrades and car park space which would normally be funded out of council consolidated revenue or a separate grant, but in order to get the project elevated to serious state or federal funding level a much grander plan is embarked on.
Last week, after lengthy public protests, numerous petitions and a community forum attracting over 300 locals, the Golden Plains shire finally shelved the $1 million Inverleigh streetscape master plan. This extensive and artistically drafted streetscape originally planned to restrict side streets on the Hamilton Highway to one-way streets, reduce the width of the Hamilton Highway and do various other beautification works. The local One Way, No Way community organiser said this was a rare win for David over Goliath and that, if other towns hear about the result, it will give them the ability to believe these battles can still be won.
What a shame it had to get to this. All the community angst and consultant expenditure could have been avoided had community consultation taken place prior to expensive plans being promulgated and imposed on the local community. The action I seek from the minister is to require local governments to undertake community consultation for potential large projects prior to embarking on substantial ratepayer expenditure.