NSW Government not to blame for Council’s situation

Forum –

Kevin Humphrey’s contention (Chronicle Forum p15 Feb 17) that “the present financial condition (of the Council) is a direct result of the amalgamation” of the previous Gosford and Wyong councils and that “the NSW Government must pick up the cost of their (sic) failed experiment” does not stand up to any scrutiny.

The NSW Government did not authorise the illegal expenditure of funds, the NSW Government did not increase the staffing budget of Council, the NSW Government did not direct the maximum payment of mayor and councillors over the life of the Council and the NSW Government did not mismanage the Council affairs so disastrously as to leave us with monstrous debt that we shall be paying off for decades.

All of these things were done by the councillors, presumably with the knowledge of the Audit and Risk Committee, and those were the councillors that the Central Coast ratepayers elected.

Mr Humphrey would have us believe that the NSW Government forced on us a council that was “too big”, even though Central Coast, at a mere 309,000, isn’t the biggest council in NSW, let alone in Australia where the biggest council has a population of 1.25 million and seems to manage quite well.

Of course, if he means that it was too big for the intellectual pygmies holding office, he might well be right.

The amalgamation was supposed to bring economies of scale, as would happen with any well-run organisation, but our councillors seem to be suffering from delusions of omnipotence and took the opportunity to aggrandise themselves with our money, with no apparent concern for fiscal responsibility or legality.

The feeble justification that much of this expenditure was on “improvements” that have benefitted the region (although not noticeably, as far as I can see) is insignificant in comparison with the chaos that has been inflicted on us, in order to achieve these improvements.

The call for a full inquiry into the actions of Council should be wholeheartedly supported, but in the meantime, we should strongly emphasise to the Minister that there should be no thought of any present councillor returning to office before September.

If they then wish to submit themselves to the judgement of the ratepayers in a new election, well and good, but who knows what extra damage they could inflict with three months in office and no obvious qualms of conscience about their past standards of behaviour.

Email, Feb 22
Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy